The Orioles have reportedly locked up RF Nick Markakis with a 6-year, $66 million deal.
This is welcome news and a (relatively) long time coming. Markakis is overlooked outside of Baltimore but is legitimately one of the best young ballplayers in the majors. For 2008, OPS+ leaders for players under 25:
C. Quentin 148
H. Ramirez 146
D. Wright 141
J. Mauer 137
N. Markakis 134
B. Mcann 134
M. Cabrera 130
G. Sizemore 128
P. Fielder 128
R. Braun 128
He's an elite talent, with the bat and the glove, and now he's an Oriole through 2014, his age 31 season.
FanGraphs.com values Markakis' 2008 performance at $24.3 million but even by current values in the marketplace, $11 million per season is a bargain for Markakis. In a market that pays Raul Ibanez $10.5 million per season, the Orioles saved themselves a lot of headaches later on. Especially since Nick Markakis is due for a breakout season in 2009.
In other news, RP Randor Bierd was traded to the Boston Red Sox for SP David Pauley.
Randor, we hardly knew ye. The Orioles acquired Bierd from the Detroit Tigers in last year's Rule 5 draft and he made quite a splash in April by pitching 13.1 innings at a 2.03 ERA. But he hurt his shoulder, didn't return to action until late July and wasn't the same after that. I would not be shocked if he straightens himself out but with a glut on minor league righthanded relievers, The Warehouse viewed him as expendable.
David Pauley is likely cannon fodder for the 2009 rotation, perhaps a long reliever. Pauley did manage to post a 4.52 FIP is a couple cups of coffee with the Sox but seems to be similar to the recently departed Garrett Olson; a soft-tossing finesse guy who may turn out to be a AAAA pitcher.
But as I've said before, the slogan for the 2009 Oriole rotation will be "We'll Take Anybody"...