Over the last few days, rumors circulated that the Braves were pushing hard to sign Nick Markakis, so this morning, Mike Petriello wrote up a piece on Markakis’ value, questioning just MLB teams see in him that we don’t see. He didn’t find an answer, and besides durability, I don’t really have one either, but clearly the Atlanta Braves see something in Nick Markakis that they really value, as Jeff Passan reports they’ve signed him to a four year, ~$44 million contract.
Source: OF Nick Markakis agrees to four-year deal with Atlanta Braves. Dollars unclear, but sides discussed a deal in neighborhood of $44M.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2014
Rather than just re-hash what Mike wrote this morning, I’ll just quote his conclusion.
Let’s say you disagree with Markakis’ defensive ratings, that you prefer to think of him as a 2 WAR player, which isn’t unfair. That’s a league-average player. Markakis seems like a league-average player. If wins are somewhere around $7 million this winter, you can make the argument that he’s worth $14 million next year. Let’s even call it $15 million, if you really like not striking out. But even if we go with that, he’s already shown that the last two years are the start of his decline. A four-year deal easily takes you to below-average or replacement or worse. It’s hard to see a team coming out ahead on that.
When I started this, I really wanted to see what I’d been missing. I wanted to know why the public perception and the advanced metrics seem so far apart. I’m not really sure I accomplished that. Markakis is a steady player, nothing more, with little upside remaining and age squarely against him, one who could look worse outside of Camden depending on where he winds up. Some team is going to pay heavily for that. Some team is going to regret doing so.
Maybe the Braves believe they can get him to rediscover his power. Maybe they think he’s really an above average defender, not a below average one. You can stretch and see how this could kinda work, if you didn’t also see Nori Aoki — they are the same player, basically — sitting around looking to sign for half this price, most likely. But more likely, Markakis is what he is, and the Braves will end up wondering why they spent $44 million on an underpowered corner outfielder entering his decline years.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.