Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Markakis Extension Talks (Or Lack Thereof)

It was recently reported by Dan Connolly and Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun that Nick Markakis and his agent are looking to see what happens in the free agent market before resuming negotiations on an extension. This means that it will be at least six more weeks before the Orioles will have a chance to make their star right fielder a new offer.

Please, before you continue reading take a minute to wipe the sweat off your brow. Take a seat, have a drink of water, and please breathe. This situation absolutely reeks of the dysfunctional Orioles management of the past ten years. By far, extending Markakis was the most important focus of this offseason and so far Andy MacPhail has failed miserably in that. Now before I go on about the organization, let me assure you of this; Nick Markakis will almost surely be extended at some point. He is to vital to this franchise, and I don't see any way that management will let him become a free agent in the near future. Nick Markakis has let it be known that he would like to stay in Baltimore, but at the same time he wants a fair deal given the current market for players of his caliber. A deal will get done, it will just be more painful than we had all hoped.

That being said, shame on this organization for letting the situation get to this point. While Andy MacPhail and others have spoken about how much they want to build around Nick Markakis, they have failed to reflect that attitude in their actions. They started the year on the wrong foot, giving him a paltry $455,000 salary in arbitration, which hardly represents his performance and shows no commitment to the young man. Yes, it is fully within their right and yes, typical baseball logic says that you give the player a low salary because after this year the power shifts to the player rather than the organization. However, a good-will gesture would have gone a long way to engendering positive talks between the two sides. Instead, the Orioles created room for resentment on Markakis' part, following it up with an offer of reportedly 5-6 million annually in July. By modern baseball standards, that offer is an absolute joke and yet another attempt by this organization to try to low-ball a talented player.

So I give a congratulations to the whole of Orioles management, you have dug yourself a much deeper hole in this situation. Luckily, when all is said and done, the bumbling of this situation will be forgotten if the deal can finally be completed.

The template for an offer to Markakis has already been set in the contracts for Evan Longoria and Alex Rios. The Orioles need to simply pony up and quit assuming that a young player like Markakis is blind to those standard deals. Nick Markakis is a can't-miss player, who does everything you want on the field and is a clean player off of it. He is a homegrown talent, one that the Orioles have been searching for for a long time. So please, Andy MacPhail, don't screw this one up.

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