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Tuesday Triple Play: Orioles, Markakis, Free Agents

1. It's good to see a team take the unused money they had earmarked for a special free agent, who ultimately signed elsewhere, and use it in another productive way. I'm speaking, of course, about the Orioles, who reportedly locked up right fielder Nick Markakis to a six-year deal worth around $66 million.

The Orioles will probably never acknowledge whether Mark Teixeira's spurning their offer for the Yankees' allowed them to reach agreement with Markakis -- or put another way, whether the hypothetical signing of Teixeira would have precluded the Markakis deal -- but mid-market teams like the Orioles have to make hard choices.

2. Though we haven't seen a breakdown of the numbers yet, it is safe to say the extension was an excellent deal for Markakis. Months ago, his agents were floating the idea of a deal in the range of Chase Utley (seven years, $85 million, signed in Jan. 2007), a notion that was largely scoffed at around the game. But in the end, they got something pretty close. But a better comparable is the deal the Florida Marlins gave Hanley Ramirez (six years, $70 million, in May 2008). In all three deals, the teams bought out all three arbitration years, plus three or (in the case of Utley) four free agent years. Here are the breakdowns of the Ramirez and Utley deals, along with some guesswork as to the breakdown of Markakis's deal:

Ramirez $5.5M $7M $11M $15M $15.5M $16M NA NA $70M
Utley $4.5 $7.5M $11M $15M $15M $15M $15M *$2M $85M
Markakis $4.5M $7.5M $11M $14M $14M $15M NA NA $66M

(*-Utley received a $2M signing bonus.)

Again, we're just guessing on the breakdown of Markakis's deal, but the greater point is that he winds up getting a deal that is just a tad less than those recently signed by a pair of superb middle infielders, one of whom (Ramirez) is widely considered the best young player in the game, and the other of whom (Utley) is the best player on the defending World Series champs.

3. Great work by Chico over at Nationals Journal in recalibrating the free agent market for those players who are still unsigned. Five million dollars for Adam Dunn? Wow. If that's really what it has come to, I predict you're going to see a bunch of big-name free agents, including Dunn, Ben Sheets, Orlando Hudson and others, sign one-year contracts in hopes of riding out the economic storm, putting up big numbers, and trying to cash in again next winter, when, hopefully, the atmosphere is more hospitable towards free agents.

By Dave Sheinin  |  January 20, 2009; 9:13 AM ET
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Markakis was going to get done even with Teixeira. The O's are rolling in money thanks to MASN. One local station here in B-more reported that it generated 150 mil this year with costs being around 30 mil. Hence 120 mil in Angelos' pocket. That's just from the $3.50 a month we all pay from South PA to NC. Imagine if anyone actually watched or bought advertising to that network? The growth potential is huge but that presumes little Petey actually putting a quality product on the field.

Posted by: bulldog23 | January 20, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

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