“Less than a 50-50 chance” that Nick Markakis returns to the Orioles

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FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that Nick Markakis returning to the Orioles is no longer a foregone conclusion and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun now hears that there’s “less than a 50-50 chance” that the two sides will work out a new deal.

This is quite a shift from what we heard about a month ago, as the Orioles and Markakis were having serious discussions about a four-year deal worth between $10-12 million per season. However, Connolly hears there “have only been a few conversations since then.” No word on the exact reason for the change, but word is that the Orioles are hesitant to commit four years to Markakis.

With Nelson Cruz off the board, the Orioles’ alternatives to Markakis in the free agent market include the likes of Melky Cabrera, Alex Rios, Colby Rasmus, Torii Hunter, Nori Aoki, and Mike Morse. The club has also reportedly discussed a Matt Kemp trade with the Dodgers.

Markakis, 31, batted .276/.342/.386 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI over 155 games this past season. He has spent his entire nine-year major league career with the Orioles.

Hinch, Luhnow, will be eligible in 2021 even if there are no games in 2020

A.J. Hinch (left) and Jeff Luhnow (right)
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You no doubt recall that former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and ex-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow were given the one-year bans and were subsequently fired in January due to the Astros sign-stealing scandal. It’s possible, however, that each of them could be back in baseball without having missed a single game.

That’s the report from Buster Olney of ESPN, who has learned that Hinch and Luhnow will become eligible in 2021 even if there are no games played in the 2020 season. The reason: Hinch and Luhnow’s suspensions are tied to “the end of the 2020 postseason.” In contrast, players who are suspended for PED offenses for violations of the league’s domestic violence policies are suspended for a set number of games. Their suspensions will not begin until games begin and, if the number of games in the 2020 season ends up being fewer than the number of games in their suspension, it will carry over to 2021.

It would not shock me a bit if another team hired Hinch at some point down the road. And, despite the league’s finding that Luhnow fostered a “toxic” environment in the Astros’ front office, I would not be at all surprised if he were hired as some sort of advisor down the road and, potentially, found himself running a team again. His tenure in Houston was discovered to be objectively awful from an ethical perspective, but (a) he won; and (b) he cut costs, and those are the two biggest priorities for most teams. Not necessarily in that order.