The contract is worth a $4 million salary in 2019 with a $6 million club option in 2020. It will cost the Braves $2 million to buyout the option, meaning that Markakis has a guaranteed $6 million.
Jon Heyman added that other teams had offered Markakis more years and more money, but he opted to stay in Atlanta.
Markakis had a career year in 2018, winning a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and becoming an All-Star for the first time. He is a renowned ironman, having played 155 or more games in each of the last six seasons. He featured in every single regular season game for the Braves last season.
Despite his recent success and clean injury history, it should not be a surprise that Markakis received just $6 million guaranteed. The right fielder is heading into his age-35 campaign, and he suffered a nasty drop off in the second half of the last campaign.
A first half OPS of .877 was always unsustainable with a .344 BABIP. Markakis was perhaps a little unlucky after the break, though, as his BABIP slipped to .280, which saw his OPS drop to just above .700.
Markakis hovered around being a league average hitter during his last contract with Atlanta. His great pre-All-Star form in 2018 made it the best year of his Braves career. His Gold Glove calibre defence is valuable, of course, though he registered zero outs above average last year, the same as Ryan Braun and Joey Gallo, who are not exactly noted for their defence.
This signing is the safe option for Atlanta. Markakis is reliable on both sides of the ball, and he’s very cheap. He’ll have a wRC+ around 100 (Steamer projects 102) and he will not be a liability defensively. One-year deals with a team option carry almost no risk.
It’s not an exciting move by the Braves, but they are not going to have $250 million payroll, so a value deal like this is understandable. You know what you’ll get from Markakis, and that’s worth something to MLB front offices.
Atlanta will be contenders in the National League East, even if this is their final offseason move. With Josh Donaldson only signed for next season and a lot of young, cheap, controllable talent, the Braves had an opportunity to spend heavily to fill their right field berth.
Atlanta were perhaps the perfect landing spot for Bryce Harper. It’s understandable if his contract demands scared them off a deal, or maybe they were just not interested in hitting their franchise with the Harper tidal wave. We might never know, but it would have been fun to see Donaldson, Harper, Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies in the same line-up.