Royals rumors indicate the front office is checking out Atlanta outfielder Nick Markakis as the trade deadline approaches.
The KC Royals have looked at Markakis before, but his mediocre .260/.337/.366 slash line has deterred suitors from pulling the trigger. With Atlanta in clear sell mode, there’s no reason for them to retain any veteran assets like Markakis.
However, Markakis has stepped up his production at the plate in the month of July. He’s hitting an improved .277/.347/.431 since July 1, with 3 home runs. While that’s hardly bringing down the house, Markakis might be rediscovering a bit of his pop.
That league-average production just might draw some interest from the Kansas City Royals, especially since Paulo Orlando‘s bat has cooled off. Orlando is hitting a mere .217/.239/.239 since July 1. Orlando’s overall numbers look quite acceptable at .311/.336/.395, but his softening production indicates he just enjoyed a hot streak rather than a breakthrough at the plate.
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Orlando’s slide has apparently helped bring the KC Royals brain trust back to Markakis, who is a cheap outfield upgrade. Markakis could be an outstanding platoon option with Orlando, since the lefty hitting Markakis is slashing a solid .266/.353/.397 against right handed pitchers this season. Meanwhile, right handed hitting Orlando is hitting .310/.331/.392 against left hand pitchers. However, Orlando has a reverse platoon split in that he’s slashing .316/.350/.404 against right handers.
Even so, Orlando would be able to protect Markakis against lefties.
Platooning the two should yield one effective right fielder, which might be just enough to get the KC Royals into the 2016 playoff picture. The big advantage of Markakis is he would help balance the Kansas City Royals lineup against right-handed pitchers (the KC Royals currently only start two left handed batters in Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer, along with switch hitter Kendrys Morales). Markakis also would help with KC’s keep-the-line moving philosophy since he’s only struck out 58 times in 361 at bats.
While Markakis wouldn’t be a huge get, he’d provide some boost to an offense that needs help. The sticking point, however, is likely money. The 32-year-old Markakis is owed $22 million over the next two seasons. That’s a rather high price for an outfielder with declining production.
For a KC Royals team that will struggle to keep key pieces from their current core when a horde of players hit free agency after the 2017 season, paying $22 million to what is now a platoon player like Markakis isn’t a good idea. The Kansas City Royals will want the Braves to pick up a significant portion of that salary, which could put Markakis out of the Royals price range in prospects.