Nick Markakis Rumors
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.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney yesterday:
Recently, the Orioles made a modest offer to right fielder Nick Markakis, and the conversations went nowhere; it's unclear whether the threads of negotiations will be picked up any time soon, or -- more likely -- will be held over until next winter.
A brief history on the Markakis negotiations is below. He will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season.
- In March, Markakis was renewed at $455K rather than the $800K he hoped for. He did not make any negative public comments, though several outlets perceived him to be miffed, ticked, and angered.
- In May, Olney wrote that the Orioles planned to wait at least three years before discussing long-term deals with young players like Markakis and Adam Jones.
- Later in May, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun said extension discussions are expected this winter. The O's will focus on buying out free agent seasons.
- In July, Jeff Zrebiec of the Sun said the Orioles talked to Markakis about an extension but talks hit a wall and they'll wait until after the season. Zrebiec said the Orioles wanted to buy out Markakis' three arbitration years, at least. I speculated that the O's could offer six years, $62MM.
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles recently discussed a contract extension with right fielder Nick Markakis. However, talks have already reached a standstill and will wait until after the season.
Markakis will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after the season. He's earning $455K this year, so his '09 salary should increase at least tenfold. Zrebiec says the O's wanted to buy out Markakis' three arbitration years, at the least.
Zrebiec speculates that Markakis' contract could fall somewhere between those of Alex Rios and Hanley Ramirez. Rios is an odd case since he was a Super Two player. He will receive about $16.3MM for his last three arb years and then $12.25MM annually covering four free agent years. Ramirez gave up his three arb years for $23.5MM and then three free agent years at an average of $15.5MM.
Splitting the difference, the Orioles could offer Markakis a six-year, $62MM extension.
The Orioles have been slow to embrace the trend of signing young players long-term to save money. Granted, they don't have any obvious extension candidates aside from right fielder Nick Markakis. Jeremy Guthrie, maybe, but he's represented by Scott Boras and isn't a star player. Seems too early for Adam Jones. Earlier this month, Buster Olney wrote that the Orioles plan to wait at least three years before talking to Markakis or Jones about extensions.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun has a new article up discussing Markakis' situation. He notes that Markakis' agent hasn't had substantive contract talks with the Orioles, but discussions are expected this winter since he'll be arbitration-eligible for the '09 season. Connolly says the O's aren't concerned about saving money during the arb years; they'd be focused on buying out free agent seasons. So they could definitely continue to wait even as fans get uneasy about Markakis. Connolly figures Markakis' salary will jump up to the $2.5-5MM range in '09.
Connolly suggests Alex Rios might be a good comparable for Markakis. Rios basically gave up two arb years for $15.6MM and four free agent years for $49MM.
Interesting note from Buster Olney's blog today:
Most major-league teams are working to sign their best young players to multi-year deals. But right now, the Orioles' internal philosophy is to wait for at least three years before discussing a multi-year deal with the likes of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.
Surprising, isn't it? If the Orioles eschew long-term deals, their best players will be much more expensive when the team is ready to compete. Markakis, their star player, will be up for arbitration after this season. Maybe he won't get the $10MM Ryan Howard did, but $7MM seems reasonable. There were already rumblings that Markakis was angered by this year's $55K raise.
Is it fair to lump Nick Markakis in with the growing collection of young players annoyed with their renewals? The Orioles gave Markakis a $55K raise up to $455K. He apparently wanted something north of $800K. That's kind of how these "negotiations" go when one side has zero leverage aside from "unhappiness." Markakis didn't whine about it. He said:
That's just how the Orioles feel. I don't have much of a choice. I'm just going to have to deal with it.
ESPN interpreted this quote to mean Markakis was "miffed" and "ticked." In the above-linked article, Dan Connolly writes, "Those close to him, however, say Markakis was angered by the end result."
While there is a growing trend of pre-arb players being annoyed over renewals, let's not lump Markakis in with Prince Fielder and Cole Hamels. Markakis didn't actually make any negative comments. Expressing discontent to close friends about one's salary is something most people do.