Well, things just picked up. No, it’s not quite Russell Martin signed and Jason Heyward traded in a five-minute span, but two bits of news did pop up at nearly the same time.
The Braves, who are in the middle of one of the head-scratchingest offseasons in baseball, have signed outfielder Nick Markakis, according to Jeff Passan:
Source: OF Nick Markakis agrees to four-year deal with Atlanta Braves. Dollars unclear, but sides discussed a deal in neighborhood of $44M.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2014
Although Markakis was never connected to the Cubs – and, I gotta be honest, I was never particularly interested in them being so connected – his signing with the Braves would have a tremendous market impact. The Braves, until the last day or two, weren’t expected to be going for an upper tier bat, which means Markakis going to Atlanta could leave some teams scrambling. The Orioles, most notably, are now going to have to deal with losing both Nelson Cruz and Markakis.
I’m still interested in seeing the Cubs pick up an outfielder in trade – perhaps one of the Red Sox’s many options? or Dodgers? – which could be impacted by this signing, because maybe now the Braves are even more aggressive in shopping Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. Bear in mind, I don’t see the Cubs getting either of those guys, but we’re talking about the affect at a market-wide level. I’ll have to think some more on this, because I didn’t see Markakis going so swiftly to the Braves.
And speaking of outfielders picked up in trade, it’s the Blue Jays getting Mariners cast-off Michael Saunders, and at a very cheap price:
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 3, 2014
Happ, 32, has been a below-average starter for a while now, but I guess he’s serviceable at the back of the rotation. He’s scheduled to make $6.7 million in 2015 before reaching free agency, however, which makes me question how valuable he really is. Travis Wood and Tsuyoshi Wada, for example, would seem to be much more valuable.
That doesn’t mean I’m too upset about the Cubs not making a move for Saunders, though I’ve discussed him before. The trick is that Saunders, although cheap and productive, is pretty much a pure platoon lefty. That’s hard for the Cubs to accommodate, what with Chris Coghlan already kind of filling that role, and Jorge Soler implanted at the other corner outfield spot. If the Cubs aren’t picking up a starter in the outfield, then, a platoon lefty isn’t really the best fit.
So, the questions: do the Blue Jays look to add a starter now? They were already looking, but maybe now there’s a little more urgency (and they just saved a lot of money). Do the Mariners back away from the pitcher market?