The reactions from Braves’ Country on the signing of Nick Markakis has been mixed… which is odd in many ways. But even if you’re in that camp, don’t think that this is the end of the off-season.
The Atlanta Braves signed an All-Star right fielder and the current holder of both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards for the position. Shouldn’t that be excellent news?
It should be, yet the return of Nick Markakis is being met with more than a little ‘meh’ from fans on twitter… which may be the problem: it’s twitter.
No, this signing isn’t quite what we expected – a younger power bat with some upside – but getting Nick Markakis back is hardly a terrible idea. But there’s more that we need to consider here.
Here’s a prime example:
Mike Foltynewicz is a pitcher. Yes, I can hear you saying “well, duh”.
But my point is this: what you see above isn’t entirely ‘normal’. Pitchers and position players often don’t mix a lot. But this pitcher is actually sounding excited (and this was far from his only statement on the subject) about the return of a “warrior” to the club.
If Folty is on board, then the fans should be, too. This also suggests strongly that this team is a very ‘together’ group… one that roots for one another. Heck, that’s how they won in 2018. This is a direct testimony about the Braves’ clubhouse.
The cynics reply would be ‘I don’t care if he’s great in the clubhouse… he needs to be great on the field!’ True, I get that part. But please don’t lose sight of the fact that the Braves still are going to have three MVP candidates at or near the top of their lineup.
That’s merely a start, though: there’s more from this saga that’s … and it does get a bit more interesting as we probe deeper.
Timeline of Events
I apologize for the tweetstorm that I’m about to unleash, but important to document the order of events as they have unfolded.
So let’s start with this – a reminder from just over a week ago:
…then there was this from Chop Fest on Saturday:
That one could have been Nick Markakis, since that was resolved on Sunday:
At the same time, there was this quote… also from ChopFest:
As we’ve talked about at length, the ‘70%’ thing has to refer to a trade opportunity… and probably a fairly significant one, being characterized in that manner. So that’s not about Nick Markakis.
But Saturday’s ChopFest comment? That probably referred to Nick… and clearly, Markakis – as you can see from his contract terms – was valuing the city, the team, and the clubhouse more than dollars.
So now both he and Brian McCann have inked below-market deals that will allow the Braves to go do something else to further improve the team.
That’s not accidental, either. Both players are ‘buying in’… in McCann’s case, his choice was ‘the Braves’ or ‘retirement.’
In Markakis’ case, it could be partly about moving his family again, but frankly, you can find an awful lot of movers that work for the kinds of extra bucks he turned down. Certainly, then, he is doing this as part of a desire to help this team win. Certainly you’ve got to like that.
One more aspect
Let’s talk about the specific case of the ‘70%’ trade…
In this case, the ‘no comment’ tells me clearly that ‘yes – it’s still in play’… whatever it might be. If not, then it would be very easy to say “no, that’s off the table now”.
So please feel free to talk about what else might be going on here: a pitcher? A certain catcher? Something else?
In short, the Braves are not done. This is not the end. There are still things that can be done, and they have been made possible – in part – thanks to the fact that both McCann and Markakis are reasonable people who are happier to be here than not.
In this day and age, that is wonderfully refreshing to see.
We’ll have more on this subject on the site in the very near future. Looks of moving parts… lots of chess-playing still taking place out there.