Rumor: Toronto Blue Jays Still Interested in Nick Markakis
The Toronto Blue Jays have been linked to Nick Markakis on-and-off through the first month of the MLB offseason. Following their additions of Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson, the reality is that the Toronto Blue Jays still possess the same holes they ended the season with. According to Jon Heyman of CBS, the Blue Jays are showing renewed interest in Markakis, possibly as a backup option to Melky Cabrera in LF.
In mid-November, Nick Markakis still seemed likely to land back with the Baltimore Orioles. The Toronto Blue Jays had shown interest, which could be nothing more than the classic Alex Anthopoulos “check-in”, but it was reported that the Jays were not “seriously pursuing him” at the time. So what has changed? The Toronto Blue Jays now have a much better feel on their situation with Melky Cabrera, both in terms of his financial demands and his desire to return to the Rogers Centre turf. Alex Anthopoulos has surely gotten the lay of the land in the trade market by this point, as well, but the most important change has been contract talks between Markakis and the Orioles. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that it is now more likely that Nick Markakis signs elsewhere.
Markakis is a solid player. Whether he is worth a large contract that takes him through to his age-35 season is another issue entirely, but he is solid. In his career with the Orioles, Markakis has appeared in fewer than 147 games only once, and compiled a slash line of .290 / .358 / .435. In 2014, Markakis also added his second Gold Glove in four seasons.
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I see Markakis as a mildly attractive option, but certainly only if the price moves in a direction that the Toronto Blue Jays are very comfortable with. For comparisons sake, he is not a player that the Blue Jays would view as the can’t-miss option that Russell Martin was. He may not be worth chasing, but he is a viable option for the Blue Jays to consider.
The LF decision has two important turning points for me. The first, of course, is Melky Cabrera. If Cabrera chooses not to return to the Toronto Blue Jays, the second question to consider is this: Will a contract for Nick Markakis or Nori Aoki be worth the upgrade from Kevin Pillar, or would those funds be more valuable upgrading the 2B position?
The Toronto Blue Jays have been linked to a dozen names in the past month, and will surely be linked to a dozen more before the New Year. Interest in a player such as this makes sense on the ground-floor level, but how do you feel about the Toronto Blue Jays allocating their funds (which may be more limited than we think) to Nick Markakis?