Nick Markakis Rumors
fielder Nick Markakis and the Baltimore Orioles have made "real progress" in their contract-extension negotiations in recent days, according to club president Andy MacPhail.
One source told Connolly that the two sides are close to agreeing to a six-year deal worth between $64MM and $66MM in guaranteed money.
Markakis, 25, hit .306 with 20 home runs and 87 RBI in 2008.
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun writes about the Orioles' attempt to sign arbitration-eligible outfielder Luke Scott before figures are submitted on Tuesday. Baltimore's other arb-eligible players are Nick Markakis and George Sherrill.
The O's made an offer to Scott's agent Page Odle on Tuesday, and the offer was countered on Thursday. Odle described it as "pretty positive dialogue."
Zrebiec also learned from Odle that the Orioles remain interested in Will Ohman, as are the Braves, D'Backs, Indians, and Rangers. Ohman has two offers in hand, but not from the O's.
Regarding Sherrill, MLBTR has learned that the Orioles called his agent yesterday to give a number they were looking at. It was their first contact of the offseason.
10:46pm: Roch Kubatko says Zaun wants a two-year deal but the Orioles prefer one year. The O's are also talking with Ivan Rodriguez. Kubatko adds that Kenshin Kawakami was seeking a three-year deal. In another post, Kubatko says the O's have no interest in Shelley Duncan, but Richie Sexson and Ty Wigginton are possibilities for first base. Peter Schmuck adds Nick Swisher, Ryan Garko, Billy Butler, and Ryan Shealy as trade possibilities.
Dan Connolly says the Orioles offered Brian Roberts a multiyear extension at about $10MM per, but the two sides have not made progress and Roberts doesn't want talks dragging into the season. Andy MacPhail said he hasn't had trade talks for Roberts for at least a month. As for Nick Markakis, the sides were about $10MM apart on a possible six-year extension.
11:31am: Orioles notes...
- As you know, the Orioles reached an agreement with their first-ever Japanese player, Koji Uehara. It's a two-year deal worth $10MM guaranteed, with another $6MM in incentives and bonuses. Patrick Newman offers commentary on the signing, which is not getting a ton of press in the Japanese media. Keith Law wonders if Baltimore was a wise choice for Uehara.
- Dan Connolly says the Orioles' immediate priority is now to add a catcher, with Gregg Zaun and Ivan Rodriguez the candidates.
- Peter Schmuck says the O's are looking for a reserve infielder as well. They've talked to Chris Gomez's agent and Willie Bloomquist "might be another possibility."
We have a new column from Ken Rosenthal this evening.
- Mark Teixeira is holding up many areas of the free agent market, as guys like Brian Fuentes and Milton Bradley know the Angels will be interested if Tex signs elsewhere.
- Rosenthal believes the Yankees should continue to be aggressive and make a competitive bid for Teixeira.
- The "poor working conditions and occasionally unruly crowd behavior" make it hard for the A's to attract free agents. Their move in 2012 should help.
- Rosenthal believes Chase Utley's seven year, $85MM deal could provide a framework for a Nick Markakis extension.
- The A's will wait for free agent bargains now that they've lost Rafael Furcal.
- The Red Sox and Mets are the main suitors for Derek Lowe, with the Yankees less likely.
- The Braves have been shopping Kelly Johnson for an outfielder. Attempts to acquire Ryan Ludwick or Corey Hart did not work out.
According to Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles' contract extension talks with Nick Markakis are on hold and probably will not be revisited for at least six weeks.
The Orioles are looking to sign Markakis for his three arbitration years as well as at least three of free agency. Markakis would like to observe the free agent market before resuming talks with the Orioles. Perhaps Markakis and his agent plan to value his free agent years based on the contracts for players like Raul Ibanez and Bobby Abreu.
3:08pm: Roch Kubatko of MASN Online gives thoughts on the Orioles and Mark Teixeira and Burnett. Kubatko believes there's no chance the O's offer five years to Burnett, and even four would be a stretch. He'd have to be willing to take a discount to come to Baltimore. As for Tex, will he be willing to play for a team that may not be competitive in the first few years of his deal?
8:32am: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun talked to A.J. Burnett's agent Darek Braunecker, who said his client has narrowed his list from twelve to about six teams. The Orioles remain in the mix after Andy MacPhail had a "nice conversation" with Braunecker on Friday.
It's speculated that the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, and Braves are the other five clubs. In his comments, Braunecker didn't seem dead set on a five-year deal.
In other Orioles news, Nick Markakis' agent had "active talks" with MacPhail about a contract extension. Markakis is entering his three arbitration years.
Finally, Steve Melewski of MASN Online says the O's have shown interest in four Japanese free agents: Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami, Junichi Tazawa, and catcher Ryoji Aikawa. Tazawa seems close to signing with the Red Sox. Uehara might be a more affordable alternative to Burnett.
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun has a few Orioles notes today.
- Danys Baez, who hasn't pitched since 2006, would like to prepare as a starter for 2008. Andy MacPhail is open to the idea; the Orioles have more open spots in their rotation than their bullpen. Baez is set to earn $5.5MM in '09, the last year of his deal. Starting is where the money's at, unless you get a chance to close.
- The Orioles are interested in Khalil Greene, but prefer a long-term solution at shortstop.
- Nothing new on the extension front for Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts. MacPhail is probably eyeing the Jake Peavy negotiations closely, as the Cubs be out of the running for Roberts if they acquire Peavy.
- Zrebiec speculated recently that the Orioles will sign Cesar Izturis to play short and will eat the $9MM owed to Ramon Hernandez to move him.
According to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles are focused on signing Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts to contract extensions. Markakis is under team control for three more years, while Roberts is under contract for 2009 at $8MM.
Zrebiec talked to Orioles president Andy MacPhail, who says the team has talked generalities with both players' agents. Roberts does not want to talk about a contract once spring training begins. It makes sense for MacPhail to figure out his situation soon, to allow time for trade talks if Roberts cannot be extended.
My guess at possible Roberts suitors if he hits the market: the White Sox, Indians, Cardinals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, and Brewers.
Steve Melewski of MASN Online spoke to Orioles president Andy MacPhail, who said he's had preliminary contract extension talks with Nick Markakis' agent. Dollar figures have not yet been exchanged. MacPhail added that there are no hard feelings from Markakis' renewal last year. Locking up Markakis is an offseason priority for the Orioles. They'll try to buy out all three arbitration years as well as some free agent years.
In March, players such as Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, and Markakis were renewed at $700K or less. Fielder and Hamels publicly expressed displeasure. Young players who may be renewed next March include Hunter Pence, James Loney, Yunel Escobar, Jeremy Guthrie, Joba Chamberlain, and Tim Lincecum.
In what the Baltimore Sun is calling a pivotal offseason, Orioles president of baseball operations, Andy MacPhail, said the team will initiate contract extension talks with the agents of second baseman Brian Roberts and outfielder Nick Markakis.
Roberts is eligible for free-agency after next season, and the Orioles had brief discussions with Jamie Murphy, Markakis' agent, during the All-Star game, but talks quickly ceased due to neither party being able to reach any common ground.
Roberts has been linked to several trade talks in the past, but he made no secret of the fact that he'd like to stay with the O's:
"I've always enjoyed Baltimore. I like playing here," Roberts told the Sun. "It's something that we'll have to sit down and look at this winter. If the opportunity arises, I'll sit down with the Orioles or my agent or my family or whoever and try to figure out the best thing to do. I just have trouble looking at it right now. I'm just trying to finish the season, and there's nothing really on the table to talk about it. But I enjoy being here. It's something that I'd definitely consider."
Markakis is considered the cornerstone of the Orioles' rebuilding plans.
Alejandro A. Leal writes for UmpBump.com and can be reached here: alexo05 (at) umpbump (dot) com.