Change is brewing for the Braves and that change starts in the outfield.
The 2018 Atlanta Braves certainly produced at a level nobody (outside of a few true believers) really expected. The Braves outfield was a huge part of that success this year. Ender Inciarte‘s gold glove defense, Ronald Acuña Jr’s incredible speed and hitting prowess, and Nick Markakis’s all around contributions all played a large role in the successful season.
Acuña and Inciarte are under contract for several more years, and their place on the team is more-or-less cemented in stone.
However, Markakis’s spot has now – at least temporarily – been vacated. Alex Anthopoulos has indicated that the Braves have an interest in bringing back Markakis (and Kurt Suzuki, but that’s a topic for another day).That may now ultimately be in the cards, though.
I certainly appreciate what Markakis has done for the team, sticking through the tough rebuild and serving as a mentor for the young guys on the team. However, at some point you have to look at Markakis’s age in regards to the rest of the team, and see that it is nowhere close to the young core we have in place.
Yes, he had an all-star caliber season. However, in the second half, his production trailed off. According to ESPN, his second half Batting average was only .258, a far cry from his sterling .323 from before the break that earned him his first All-Star nod.
Obviously, if the top targets are gone bringing him back on a short-term deal could make a lot of sense. I’ll be listing my top four options here, in the order of how desirable they are to me.
Number one is not going to surprise anybody.