The Braves finally addressed their outfield need - with the same person who manned the position the past four seasons.
Nick Markakis is returning to the Braves on a one-year deal that includes a club option, the AJC confirmed Tuesday. His base salary for 2019 is $4 million, with the option worth $6 million (with a $2 million buyout), as first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
“This one just needed time,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “It gave Nick an opportunity to explore the market, us the opportunity to explore alternatives.”
Markakis, 35, made his first All-Star game last season and won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger honors. He’s hit .284/.359/.400 in 636 games with the team from 2015-18.
“Happy to be back,” Markakis said on a Tuesday night conference call. “Glad this is all behind me and we can look forward to the future. … (These teammates) are almost like my brothers. This is going to be fun. Anything can happen in this game. I can tell you this: We’re going to play hard and give it our best every day.”
He had more lucrative offers, both financially and length of contract, but preferred returning to the Braves. The side found common ground Sunday night, when Anthopoulos indicated the asking price fell more into their range.
“Nick clearly wanted to be back,” Anthopoulos said. “He made that very evident throughout this process.”
Despite a career-year, there were concerns about Markakis’ declining performance through the season. But Anthopoulos was encouraged that he still hit the ball hard, and the exit velocity was still there, in the waning months.
Markakis will be an everyday player, but he won’t log all 162 games this time around. The franchise feels more rest will help him maintain his performance through the year.
Securing Markakis at such a low rate allows the Braves to allocate funds toward other areas, Anthopoulos said. They won’t prioritize any positions, but rotation, bullpen and bench could be upgraded.
“Nick coming back on these terms allow us to pursue other things, have financial flexibility to improve the club in other ways,” Anthopoulos said.