Braves agree to deal with Nick Markakis

The Braves have their new right fielder with Nick Markakis primed to replace Jason Heyward.

Nick Markakis is coming home.

Various media outlets are reporting, and has confirmed, that the Braves have agreed to a four-year contract with the former Baltimore Orioles outfielder. The Baltimore Sun reports Markakis will receive a four-year contract in the neighborhood of $44 million dollars.

This would be a cheaper option than what the Braves would have had to spend on a new long-term deal with Jason Heyward, who was traded several weeks ago to St. Louis. Heyward, who is six years younger than Markakis, would have likely asked for a contract averaging over $15 million per season.

Markakis graduated from Woodstock High School in Woodstock, Georgia, which is 34 miles from Turner Field. It’s even closer – maybe around 20 miles – to the Braves new Sun Trust Park located in Cobb County.

Markakis then attended Young Harris College in the north Georgia mountains. The Orioles took him with the seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft. He’s a left-handed hitter and just turned 31 years old last month.

The Braves may let Markakis lead off to start the 2015 season. Jose Peraza is the eventual leadoff man, but the second baseman may not be ready until midseason. The Braves believe he may need a bit more seasoning before graduating to the big leagues.

Markakis hit leadoff for the Orioles in 148 games last season. He hit .274 with a .339 on base percentage, 13 home runs, 46 RBI and four stolen bases from the leadoff role. Heyward, in comparison, hit .270 with a .343 on base percentage, 10 home runs, 39 RBI and 14 stolen bases as Atlanta’s leadoff man in 94 games.

In his career, Markakis is a .290 hitter with a .358 OBP. He’s mainly hit third in the batting order in his career (.278 BA, .352 OBP and 70 home runs in 637 games), but Markakis has also had success hitting second in the lineup (.313 BA, .384 OBP and 40 home runs in 301 games).

Markakis has won two Gold Glove awards for his work in right field, in 2011 and this past season in 2014. He led the American League in assists two years in a row, in 2008 (17) and 2009 (13). He was second this past season with 11 from right field.

The agreement with Markakis signals even more than Justin Upton’s days with the Braves are numbered. He could have moved to right field to replace Heyward, but the Braves are fielding offers for Upton, who should fetch more in a deal than Heyward did considering Upton’s power production last season.

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