9:00pm: Assistant GM John Coppolella was also on the trip, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. The presence of Hart’s top lieutenant certainly lends even more credence to the idea that the pursuit is serious.
7:15pm: The Braves sent a group, led by manager Fredi Gonzalez, to meet with outfielder Nick Markakis yesterday in Maryland, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. While the meeting was more of an introductory opportunity than a negotiating session, it does seem to indicate that Atlanta is serious about pursuing Markakis.
Reports have been flying on Markakis since Connolly wrote yesterday that the long-time Oriole was set to explore the market more fully after talks had stalled with his former employer. Today, we learned that the Braves were joined (not necessarily exclusively) by the Blue Jays, Giants, and incumbent O’s in pursuit of Markakis.
Atlanta has an obvious need for a corner outfielder, and Markakis’s Georgia roots make him a natural target. Of course, it remains unclear whether the Braves’ new head baseball executive, John Hart, will really make a competitive run at an older player after dealing away Jason Heyward and seemingly marketing Justin Upton. While those two players are younger, of course, they are also pending free agents who always looked to be tough extension targets. On the other hand, Atlanta appears to have a good bit of work to do before it can again be considered a true contender, and the 31-year-old Markakis may make better sense for a team with more present-day production in its lineup.