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Braves offseason questions: Does Nick Markakis get traded?

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Markakis could be moved to open a spot for Mallex Smith.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest projects for the Braves' front office this winter will be figuring out the outfield. With four guys looking like capable starters and a rising prospect knocking on the door, John Coppolella will have big decisions to make.

I feel confident saying Ender Inciarte will be around next season. Ender enjoyed a big second half while leading the National League in hits. His Golden Glove can play at any of the three outfield spots, but his talents are best served in center field. That's where he should be in 2017.

The Braves somehow found a way to rid themselves of Hector Olivera by way of Matt Kemp. Kemp surprisingly went on to post a .280/.336/.519 line and hit 12 of his 35 homers in Atlanta. That will play all day in left field.

The issue, of course, is his defense; he is one of the worst defensive outfielders around, and it's likely to get worse as he gets older.

Here's the thing about Kemp: the Braves have enough speed and glove guys on the roster that they can probably afford to hide him in left field. It's similar to what the Cardinals did with Matt Holliday for years. As long as it doesn't get to a point where Kemp can't get to anything that isn't hit directly at him - which is possible - his bat should outweigh his glove for a season or two if he keeps hitting like he did in 2016.

This leaves Nick Markakis as the most likely trade candidate, though the team's offensive surge in August and September may prompt the front office to keep him around.

Markakis is owed $10.5 million the next two years. The Braves love his presence in the clubhouse. He's a sturdy veteran with limited upside to plug somewhere in the middle of the order.

A few months ago it seemed like a given that Markakis would be traded. But with the way the team turned it on late in the season at the plate, I'm not so sure. I really think it's 50-50.

Mallex Smith was thrown into the fire earlier than expected, and he struggled badly early on. He settled in nicely after that, though, and his elite speed and strong glove make him a candidate to be a starter in 2017.

Here's the issue: it's tough to see Ender and Mallex starting in the same outfield given their similar skill sets. That severely limits the Braves' power potential. It's not impossible for them to coexist in center and right field, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Dustin Peterson could be knocking on the door at some point in 2017, too.

It wouldn't surprise me if Markakis or Mallex got dealt. It also wouldn't surprise me if both were on the club's opening day roster, with Mallex serving as an every-day fourth outfielder.