Orioles decline their half of the 2015 mutual option for Nick Markakis

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The Orioles announced on Twitter that the organization has declined their half of the 2015 mutual option, worth $17.5 million, left on the contract of outfielder Nick Markakis. Instead, they will pay him a $2 million buyout, making him a free agent.

Markakis, who turns 31 in November, hit .276/.342/.386 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in 710 plate appearances, helping the Orioles reach the ALCS for the first time since 1997. Markakis batted .258 in 31 post-season at-bats against the Tigers and Royals.

Markakis joins a free agent outfield class that includes former teammate Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Torii Hunter, and Michael Cuddyer.

Cubs acquire Martín Maldonado from the Royals

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Last night Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was placed on the injured list with a strained muscle in his right foot. That injury inspired the Cubs to go out and get another catcher. They acquired Martín Maldonado in a trade with Kansas City in exchange for lefty Mike Montgomery, in a deal that was announced after the Cubs loss to the Reds.

Maldonado, 32, was a Gold Glove winner in 2017 with the Angels. At the moment he’s hitting .227 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 74 games. Obviously, though, defense is his calling card, as he’s a .220 career hitter with 57 homers and 210 RBIs in 686 games.

Montgomery, 30, is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Cubs this year. He’s heading back to where his pro career began. He was drafted by Kanas City in 2008, though he was traded away in the James Shields/Wade David/Wil Myers deal in 2012. He made his big league debut for Seattle in 2015. Dayton Moore said last night that the Royals plan to use Montgomery in the rotation as a replacement for Homer Bailey, who was dealt to Oakland on Sunday.