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.
The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.
The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.
This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.
Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.