Just a few days into the MLB season, the first opt-in has occurred.
Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis plans to rejoin the team after originally opting out of the 2020 MLB season, according to David O’Brien of The Athletic.
BREAKING NEWS: Nick Markakis is rejoining the #Braves, having changed his mind since opting out of the season just over three weeks ago. Veteran outfielder is being reinstated from the restricted list.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) July 29, 2020
Markakis opted out of the season on July 6, citing teammate Freddie Freeman’s battle with COVID-19 as his reason to sit out. As it was later revealed, Freeman feared for his life while dealing with the devastating illness and even prayed that he not die. This incredible period of pain and suffering for Freeman opened Markakis’s eyes regarding the incredible impact that the illness can have, even when the patient is someone as active and healthy as Freeman.
Three weeks later, while Markakis surely still understands the risks of COVID-19, he intends to return to the field and join the Braves as they gear up for a big season. Atlanta is currently 2-3 and in third place in the NL East, but that can change in a matter of days.
One area where the Braves need help is outfield, so Markakis’s re-emergence comes at the right time. While Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna are incredibly valuable pieces, the drop-off beyond them was noticeable as Adam Duvall and Ender Inciarte rounded out the outfield. In fact, it was so clear that Markakis’s absence would have a serious impact on Atlanta that they went out and pursued free agent Yasiel Puig. The veteran outfielder reached an agreement with the Braves but tested positive for COVID-19, causing the deal to fall through.
All in all, Markakis provides a great veteran presence with proven success at the plate and in the field. The Braves will surely benefit from his decision to re-join the team and provide valuable depth ahead of the team’s intense 60-game season.