Braves sign Nick Markakis to one-year deal with option for 2020

Nick Markakis is opting back in
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The Atlanta Braves have signed free agent outfielder Nick Markakis to a one-year deal with an option for 2020. He’ll make $4 million in 2019 and would make $6 million in 2020 if the option is picked up. There is a $2 million buyout, guaranteeing him $6 million.

Either way, that brings Markakis back to where he’s been for the past four seasons.

This past season was an All-Star campaign in which Markakis hit .297/.366/.440 (117 OPS+) with 14 homers and 93 driven in. He was, without question, a big part of the Braves’ unexpected NL East championship, though it’s worth noting that much of that impressive line came from a hot start and a good first half. After the All-Star break he hit just .258/.332/.369 (94 OPS+), which was closer to what he had done the previous couple of seasons. The upshot: it was a nice year for the now-35-year-old, but it was probably a bit of a late career fluke.

Not that he does not have value. Markakis played in all 162 games for the Braves last year and has long been seen as a leader in the clubhouse. With other, possibly better outfield options like Andrew McCutchen and Michael Brantley going elsewhere, and with reported flirtations with guys like Marwin Gonzalez apparently going nowhere, Markakis was an understandable fallback option for the Braves.

Guardians trade OF Will Benson to Reds for OF Justin Boyd

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Guardians traded outfielder Will Benson to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday for outfielder Justin Boyd.

The defending AL Central champions also will get a player to be named from the Reds in the swap.

Cincinnati drafted Boyd in the second round last year out of Oregon State. He led the Pac-12 with a .373 batting average and 24 steals in 2022. The 21-year-old batted .203 in 73 at-bats for Class-A Daytona.

The 6-foot-5 Benson spent 28 games with the Guardians last season, batting .182 with three RBIs in 28 games. The 24-year-old struggled at the plate, striking out 19 times in just 55 at-bats.

Benson was once considered one of Cleveland’s top outfield prospects, but has since been surpassed by Steven Kwan, Oscar Gonzalez and Will Brennan.