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Nick Markakis announces retirement

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Markakis hangs up his cleats after a stellar 15-year career.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Atlanta Braves Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After a 15-year major league career that included a nine-year stint with the Orioles and another six seasons with the Braves, outfielder Nick Markakis is retiring. The Athletic’s Dan Connolly and David O’Brien broke the news early Friday morning.

Per Connolly and O’Brien’s story, the 37-year-old outfielder decided to retire after the Braves lost to the Dodgers in the NLCS last October and did not pursue any free agent opportunities this offseason. He cited spending more time with his family as his primary reason for calling it a career.

Early in his career, Markakis was regarded as one of the top defensive outfielders in baseball, collecting an incredible 22 defensive runs saved in 2008 and winning a pair of Gold Gloves in 2011 and ‘14. While he wasn’t necessarily a worldbeater at the plate, he was extremely consistent, hitting double-digit homers for all nine of his seasons in Baltimore, including 23 in 2007 and 20 in ‘08, while posting a slash line of .290/.358/.435 as an Oriole. He was more of a part-time player and was less effective over his last two seasons with the Braves, watering down his career-long record of consistency a bit, but for his first 13 seasons in the majors, Markakis played in at least 147 games on 12 occasions (injuries limited him to 104 in 2012) and posted an above-average OPS+ 11 times.

After seeing his play drop off a bit during his early 30s, Markakis had an extremely entertaining resurgence with the Braves in 2018, playing in all 162 games while posting a .297/.366/.440 slash line with 14 homers and 93 RBI. He made his first and only All-Star team, won his third Gold Glove, and won his only Silver Slugger Award.

And while he lost playing time in the two seasons following that stellar campaign and briefly opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, he was still a key part of the Braves as they won the NL East in each of the past three seasons, getting within one game of the World Series in 2020.