The Blue Jays and Braves briefly discussed a potential trade involving Braves outfielder Nick Markakis earlier this month, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. However, Morosi adds that talks between the two clubs haven’t advanced beyond the early stages.
Toronto will almost certainly move on from Jose Bautista, who has been an everyday fixture in their lineup since 2009 and their primary right fielder since 2010, this offseason, so they’ll be in search of a new right fielder. With the Blue Jays planning to compete in 2018 but lacking a proven in-house option at either corner outfield spot—Steve Pearce, Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, Ezequiel Carrera, and Dalton Pompey are among the internal candidates to fill those positions—it would probably be a smart move for them to bring in an established veteran outfielder. Markakis, who has played 155 or more games in 10 of his 12 big-league seasons, including the past five, would provide a steady, experienced presence in Toronto’s lineup if they were to eventually resume talks and acquire him.
Markakis, 34, is believed to be eminently available this offseason as Atlanta looks to open up playing time in the outfield. First and foremost, they’ll be looking to make room for 20-year-old star prospect Ronald Acuna, who is expected to break into the majors in 2018 and could be big-league ready as soon as opening day after dominating the Arizona Fall League, hitting .325/.414/.639 with seven homers while being named the league’s MVP. They also may be looking to free up some playing time for Matt Adams, who posted an .841 OPS in 2017 while seeing extensive action in left field despite having been restricted to first base up until this year.
Adams and 33-year-old left fielder Matt Kemp could also be trade candidates, but with both players possessing questionable defensive skills and Kemp scheduled to make $43 million over the next two seasons, Markakis may be the player Atlanta has the best chance of recouping value for as they look to clear up roster space. The two-time Gold Glover is no longer considered an elite defender, but he’s still solid in the field and is decent at the plate, having posted a .275/.354/.384 slash line with eight homers over 670 plate appearances in 2017. He probably shouldn’t be an everyday player, but he’d be a solid option as a platoon outfielder or depth guy. Since his contract is up after 2018 and he’s earning a relatively affordable $11 million salary, he should be movable as long as the Braves don’t set their expectations too high in terms of return value.