It’s a bit strange to envision an Orioles outfield without Markakis, a career .292 hitter, but that might be the case after the 2014 season according to Steve Melewski of MASN:
Markakis potentially could be entering his last season with the club in 2014, a year where he will be paid $15 million. The Orioles hold an option on his 2015 contract at $17.5 million with a $2 million buyout.
It would take some exceptional season this year for the club to want to pick up that option. The O’s would happily settle for a return to the norm for Markakis in 2014, and they’ll worry about 2015 later.”
Short of an MVP season, I cannot imagine any scenario where the Orioles would pay $17.5 million instead of taking that $2 million buyout. One might assume that Markakis would re-negotiate and look for an extension, but he might be interested in cashing in as a free agent. Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning that position players might be looking more and more to cash in as free agents:
Barring a worst-case, career-threatening injury, position players still can earn more as free agents than they would by signing club-friendly extensions. Heck, even physically questionable pitchers such as right-hander Tim Hudson and leftyScott Kazmir fared decently in this market.”
Presuming good health and a productive season, Markakis might decide to explore free agency one year from now once the Orioles decline that borderline absurd $17.5 million option.