Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Markakis entering his final season with the Baltimore Orioles?

Before the days of Buck Showalter and playoff contention in Baltimore, Nick Markakis was there. He has been with the team since 2006 and has played 140 games every season but one.

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.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Nick Markakis

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