Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
#1. Nick Markakis, Corner Outfielder
The Padres makeover is now complete, as the final piece of the affordable free agent puzzle is Baltimore Orioles free agent outfielder, Nick Markakis. Earlier this winter, there were talks that the O’s had locked up Markakis to a new deal, but those reports were both premature and false. Markakis and the Orioles are no closer to a new deal than they were the day the team declined his $17.3 million dollar option, thus making the Gold Glove right fielder a free agent.
So where does Markakis fit with the Padres? Well, if the team can somehow find a taker for the Carlos Quentin (Kansas City Royals anyone?), that opens left field for Melky Cabrera, and gives Markakis right field all to himself. He has nice gap-to-gap power, averaging more than 20 doubles in each of his nine big leagues seasons, highlighted by four straight 40+ double seasons. He’s good for double-digit home runs, most likely in the 14-18 range, and will drive in 55-70 runs each season. Markakis is one of the elite right field defenders in all of baseball, and Petco Park fits his fielding skill set perfectly.
What would it take to snag this #1 ranked free agent outfielder? Perhaps a four-year, $54 million dollar deal, with added incentives for hitting targets reached, elevates the deal to $60 million dollars. The Padres are going to have to pay for his defense, along with his mid-range offense. Markakis will never carry a lineup on his own, but he is a vital piece that connects the entire lineup. He is another guy that can hit anywhere from second to sixth, and will extend at-bats, and pass the baton to the next hitter in the lineup, never trying to do too much.