The Orioles have spoken to Nick Markakis’ agent and will continue contract discussions this week, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Markakis is expected to hit free agency when the O’s decline their half of a $17.5MM option on the outfielder’s services for 2015. “Both sides want to get a deal done, but….A hometown discount has its limits,” Kubatko writes. Indeed, Markakis will draw a lot of interest on the open market, with MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicting Markakis will find a three- or four-year deal worth between $39-$48MM (depending on whether the Orioles extend a qualifying offer).
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- The Red Sox had some preliminary talks with Adam Katz, then Yoenis Cespedes’ agent, about a four- or five-year extension, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports. Since then, however, Cespedes changed his representation to Roc Nation Sports and is expected to look for a longer-term deal, making it more likely that the Sox explore trading him this winter. Beyond contract reasons, Boston could look to move the outfielder because, as a source tells Madden, Cespedes “marches to his own drum and the [Red Sox] coaches all hate him.”
- The Red Sox could use Cespedes as a trade chip for starting pitching, and Madden speculates that the Mets line up with the Sox as trade partners. Boston is also “exploring” what the Phillies would want for Cole Hamels, though Philadelphia isn’t interested in Cespedes.
- Ex-Rays manager Joe Maddon spoke with Fangraphs’ David Laurila in September (before the current drama surrounding Maddon’s opt-out) and discussed why pitching and defense are dominating the sport. Beyond the PED crackdown, Maddon pointed out that quite a bit of recent significant sabermetrics work has been focused on pitching and defense, rather than offense. Maddon also said driving a starter out of a game no longer presents the opportunity it once did, as “You see a lot of 95-plus out of the pen now, and some of those guys have quality secondary pitches. I think it’s become easier to build bullpens, and it’s rare a team has a bad one.”
- Maddon also suggested speed might become a more crucial part of the game than it has been in the recent past, when homers and walks became the blueprint for offensive production. The Red Sox, however, are one team that plans to stick to its offensive philosophy, GM Ben Cherington tells Laurila. “We know we need to build a better offense, but we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Cherington said. “If we can see pitches and get on base, and still hit for power and hit with runners in scoring position, I still think that’s a formula to score runs.”