Braves don’t make qualifying offers to Markakis, other free agents

The Braves opted not to extend a qualifying offer - $17.9 million for one year - to outfielder Nick Markakis or any of their free agents. The deadline was 5 p.m. Friday.

Had the Braves extended the offer, they would be awarded draft-pick compensation if Markakis signs elsewhere. He also could’ve simply accepted the deal, obviously a scenario with which the Braves weren’t comfortable.

It doesn’t rule out the possibility of re-signing the soon-to-be 35-year-old. But if he departs, the team won’t receive any compensation.

Markakis is coming off his first All-Star season and played an important leadership role in an increasingly young clubhouse. But the franchise will explore alternatives in the free-agent and trade markets, seeking a longer-term option and perhaps a player who provides more power, something teams often want from a corner outfielder.

The general managers meetings are next week in California. Such is the first offseason step in negotiations with other teams and agents. The Braves expect to be busy, with ample spending room and holes in the outfield, catcher and bullpen, along with interest in possibly adding an upper-tier starter.

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