The Orioles will likely decline the $17.5 million 2015 option on corner outfielder Nick Markakis, but are expected to tag him with the $15.3 million qualifying offer.
While he admits that Markakis has flaws and isn’t a “perfect fit,” Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks the Mets should go after Markakis:
"What Markakis does offer, the Mets need and — by the way — Sandy Alderson likes. He can hit leadoff. He had a .342 on-base percentage this season, .358 for his career, has a habit of turning at-bats serial (3.97 pitch per plate appearance average) and doesn’t back down as a lefty hitter against lefty pitching. He is an excellent two-way player, a pro, a grinder and durable — he has played 147 or more games in eight of his nine seasons."
Before delving into anything else, the fact that Sherman refers to Markakis as an “excellent two-way player” is laughable. Markakis has rated as a poor defensive player over the last few seasons, and his diminishing range is a major cause for concern. He is absolutely not an “excellent two-way-player.”
As far as what it would cost to sign Markakis, Sherman speculates that three years and $40 million would be the starting point. Yikes.
Here are five reasons why the Mets should stay far away from Markakis:
- Markakis has never had much power, and what he did have is diminishing. After posting slugging percentages between .406 and .471 for the first seven years of his career, Markakis has posted his two lowest slugging percentages over the last two seasons (.356 in 2013 and .386 in 2014). And that’s while playing his home games in a band box.
- A leadoff hitter is overrated. One of the main reasons Sherman wants the Mets to go after Markakis is because he can be a leadoff hitter since he reaches base at a very good clip. Frankly, spending $13 million on a poor defensive player with little power because he can lead off would be absurd.
- Markakis will almost certainly be attached to draft pick compensation, meaning the Mets would have to surrender their first round pick it they signed him. If the Mets are going to forfeit their first round pick, it should be while signing a player who’s far more valuable than Markakis.
- The money Markakis will be seeking – and likely get – is unreasonable. 31-year-olds coming off the two worst power years of their career who are trending downward defensively shouldn’t get $13 million per year. It won’t be surprising if someone actually gives that amount to Markakis, but it shouldn’t come from the Mets.
- Even if the Mets were to acquire a power-hitting shortstop, going after Markakis (whose lack of power would then be somewhat offset by power elsewhere on the diamond) would still not make sense. Instead of overpriced free agents on the downside of their career, the Mets should be focused primarily on the trade market when looking for offensive upgrades.
Sandy Alderson and his lieutenants know everything that’s listed above, which is why it would be quite surprising if the Mets went after Nick Markakis.
The Mets need moderate improvements this offseason in order to contend, and should only go all-in in terms of dedicating dollars and years if a true impact bat can be acquired. Markakis is not that impact bat.