Free agent outfielder Nick Markakis agreed to a one-year deal worth $6 million guaranteed with the Atlanta Braves, returning to the defending National League East champions after turning in his best season in nearly a decade.
The 35-year-old Markakis served as the Braves’ cleanup hitter in 2018, earning his first All-Star appearance while hitting .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs, 43 doubles and 93 RBIs while playing in all 162 games. While his production trailed off in the second half of the season — he hit .258/.332/.369 after the All-Star break — Markakis was well-liked throughout the Braves organization as well as inside the clubhouse from the young and ascendant team.
The deal will pay Markakis a $4 million base in 2019 and includes a $6 million option for 2020 that comes with a $2 million buyout.
He joins a lineup that grew increasingly dangerous last season with the second-half star turn of rookie Ronald Acuna and also includes star first baseman Freddie Freeman and third baseman Josh Donaldson, who signed a one-year, $23 million deal early in free agency. Along with center fielder Ender Inciarte, Markakis is a low-strikeout, high-contact bat that can mitigate some of the Braves’ swing-and-miss tendencies and deepen a lineup that complements a young, hard-throwing pitching staff.
Markakis, who has just 25 errors over his 13 career seasons and holds the MLB record for consecutive games played without an error for a non-pitcher (398), won his third Gold Glove Award in 2018. He also won his first Silver Slugger honor, and his 474 career doubles — he has at least 24 in each season of his career — ranks fifth among all active players.
Prior to joining the Braves, Markakis played nine seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. Overall, he has a career .288 batting average with 179 home runs, 969 RBIs and 1,043 runs scored. He ranks sixth among all active MLB players in games played (2,001), plate appearances (8,711) and hits (2,237).