The Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves held preliminary talks over Braves right fielder Nick Markakis early this month, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported yesterday. The two teams had “brief contact,” Morosi writes, but discussions “failed to advance.”
Markakis, 34-years-old, had spent the entirety of his career with the Baltimore Orioles prior to his free agent signing with Atlanta. In 2017, Markakis hit .275 with an on-base percentage of .354 in 160 games, the most he’s played in since 2013, when he was still with the Orioles. Markakis was worth 0.7 WAR in 2017.
Markakis, although he has played in at least 155 games every season since an injury-shortened 2012, was forced to undergo surgery on a herniated disk in his neck during the 2014 - 2015 offseason, when he initially signed his contract with the Braves. He lacked offensive power in 2015, hitting only three home runs, but got on base at a rate of .370, the second highest tally of his career.
In 207, Markakis operated nearly completely as a right fielder, although during interleague play, he did act as the designated hitter twice. Should a trade between the Blue Jays and Braves occur, Markakis can be expected to spend the majority of his time in the outfield, but an occasional appearance as designated hitter or first baseman should not be ruled out.
The Blue Jays, with the imminent departure of Jose Bautista, are in clear need of an outfielder. Part way into November, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported that the Blue Jays and New York Mets shared mutual interest in free agent and former Kansas City Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, and, along with essentially all major league teams, the Blue Jays are preparing an offer to Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani.
The Blue Jays were also expected to pursue free agent Jay Bruce this offseason, although no rumour has indicated their interest in Bruce since November 4th.
Markakis will be entering the final year of his four-year, $44 million contract in 2018.