The biggest storyline surrounding the Atlanta Braves continues to be the signing of outfielder Nick Markakis. Our own Harris Nye writes that the signing of Markakis doesn't make a lot of sense when you consider the other moves they have made this offseason.
If the premise is accepted that the Braves aren't competing for the playoffs next season, then the Markakis signing becomes more problematic. Markakis is 31 and, regardless of his production this year, it is reasonable to expect 2015 to be Markakis' best year in an Atlanta uniform. The natural aging curve of players says Markakis is already in his decline phase and will get progressively worse each year he is in Atlanta. Markakis just isn't a player that a rebuilding team needs, and his contract seems like a poor fit for a team as budget conscious as the Braves.
Beyond the Box Score's Daniel Schoenfeld thinks that the Markakis signing falls inline with Atlanta's rebuilding strategy.
For once in what seems like nearly a decade now, the Braves finally have a plan. From the minute the Jason Heyward trade broke, it was evident that the Braves were setting up a series of moves with a larger goal on the horizon. Yesterday's signing of Nick Markakis refortified that plan, and when they inevitably trade Justin Upton for cost-controlled talent, the blueprint will become even clearer. The Braves are punting any chances of contending in 2015 in order to accrue as much cheap, young, and controllable talent as possible for the next few years.
ESPN.com's Keith Law has been on board with just about every move the Braves have made this offseason including the Jason Heyward trade. He however, is scratching his head over the decision to give Nick Markakis a 4-year, $45 million deal.
I've liked much of what the Atlanta Braves have done this autumn, starting with replacing most of their front office and continuing with the trade of Jason Heyward, but the Nick Markakis contract doesn't make much sense in any context. He'd be a great one- or even two-year flier for someone willing to bet on a change of scenery (and hitting coaches) helping him, but giving him a four-year, $45 million deal that runs through his age-34 season doesn't fit any of what the club appeared to be trying to do.
SB Nation's Grant Brisbee shares Law's sentiment and doesn't understand what the Braves are doing.
This isn't a move for 2017; it's clearly a move for next season. There is no win-now move quite like a four-year deal to a solid, unspectacular 31-year-old outfielder. There's a chance that Markakis could age like Marlon Byrd, one of the players on his list of Baseball-Reference's similarity scores. There's also a chance that he could age like Gregg Jefferies, Shannon Stewart, and Edgardo Alfonzo -- other players on the list. Either way, he should still help a baseball team in 2015.
The Braves announced on Thursday that they have added former Padres' assistant GM Chad MacDonald to their front office. MacDonald will serve as a special assistant to the GM and report to John Hart and John Coppolella. MacDonald's duties will include assisting with the team's amateur, international and professional scouting efforts.
The Braves announced the signing of reliever Michael Kohn to a minor league contract that includes an invite to spring training. Kohn spent last season with the Angels and had a 3.04 ERA in 25 appearances. He struck out 26 batters in 23 2/3 innings but struggled with his control as he walked 20 batters.
Raul Ibanez has withdrawn his name from consideration to become the next manager of the Tampa Bay Rays reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin. That leaves Kevin Cash and Don Wakamatsu as the final two remaining candidates.