The Braves may soon welcome back veteran outfielder Nick Markakis. While a return this season once seemed in some doubt, he’s tracking to be activated as soon as the end of this week, as Paul Casella of MLB.com reports.
Markakis has been rehabbing a broken left wrist since suffering the injury in late July. His progress has evidently been quite good, as he’ll be back in action closer to the optimistic side of the anticipated timetable. So long as a live BP session goes well today, he could be available this Friday.
Manager Brian Snitker says that he’ll put Markakis back in the lineup once the esteemed veteran gives the word. “I don’t need to see anything really,” says Snitker. “We’ll give him a good workout, have him throw and run the bases. They want him to slide, just to see with his hand. But I trust him. If he feels like he’s ready to go, I’ll plug him in.”
With the NL East in hand, the Braves can focus on lining up their roster for the postseason (while hoping against odds to catch the Dodgers for home-field advantage). Getting Markakis up to full speed, while avoiding any further issues, will be one of the club’s top priorities over the next few weeks.
Markakis returned to the Atlanta organization over the winter for a $6MM guarantee. While he’s still a capable player and lauded leader, the 35-year-old has taken a step back from his 2018 output. Markakis is slashing a league-average-ish .284/.358/.429 (104 wRC+) while drawing below-average grades for his glovework and baserunning. But he has hit quite well against right-handed pitching, sporting a .300/.379/.462 batting line with the platoon advantage, and figures to be a productive part of the playoff roster if deployed with that in mind.
The Braves are slated to answer quite a few interesting outfield roster questions in the coming months. First, the team will need to decide among its many mix-and-match options for the playoffs. Then, it’ll have to make a partially related but quite different assessment in the ensuing offseason. Markakis is a certain part of the postseason equation, but his fate thereafter remains to be seen. With a pair of notable outfield prospects knocking at the door, not to mention trade and free agent possibilities, it’s unclear whether the club will pick up its $6MM option or insteady pay Markakis a $2MM buyout and wish him well after five seasons of service.