Source: OF Nick Markakis agrees to four-year deal with Atlanta Braves. Dollars unclear, but sides discussed a deal in neighborhood of $44M.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2014
- One, Atlanta wants to be contending as soon as possible and you can be sure they feel 2018 is a realistic opportunity to do just that. And contending becomes a lot easier when you don’t have a replacement level RF taking up 600 ABs and 10% of your payroll. This alone is motivation to move him.
- Two, you may have heard of certain OF prospect named Ronald Acuna who’s currently treating the upper minors like it’s beer league softball. Acuna’s rapid ascension as not only the best prospect in Atlanta’s system but arguably in all of baseball, has made the easy decision to move on from Nick Markakis even easier. And since the level Acuna’s currently destroying is AAA, a 2018 ETA is not only realistic, but likely. Atlanta just needs to create room for him on the roster.
The bad news for Atlanta is Markakis is the much easier of the two problems. Where it really gets tricky is with Matt Kemp.
There’s the most painful path of combining him with one of the team’s better prospects to entice another team to essentially buy that prospect by taking on Kemp’s contract. Basically, the Touki Toussaint trade except this time Atlanta playing the role of Arizona. It’s an effective way to clear payroll but I really can’t see Atlanta sacrificing the valuable assets they’ve spent so long acquiring.
There’s also the option of looking for another bad contract out there to swap with Kemp but replacing a problem with a different problem isn’t really a solution. It’s how they got into this mess to begin with. In hindsight, Atlanta would have been much better off cutting Olivera and eating the 26M he was owed and really, it’s not hindsight. I, along with several other people tweeted that very idea the day the trade went down and now, almost exactly 1 year later, it rings truer than ever.
However you slice it, however you break it down one truth is unescapable, the Braves are paying two spots a lot money for not a lot of production. And if they’re serious about contending next year, the biggest step may be solving their corner OF problem.