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Markakis Contract Extension Talks on Hold

Written By: Andrew Mindzak

Contract extension talks between the Baltimore Orioles and their right fielder Nick Markakis have been paused since early December according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. Markakis has halted talks to see how the free agent market pans out over the next few weeks. It has been reported that the two sides are several million dollars apart. With two big name free agents signing yesterday, Markakis might be in the driver's seat down in Baltimore.

On Monday, outfielder Pat Burrell signed a 2 year deal worth reportedly $16 million with the Tampa Rays. Last season with the World Champion Phillies, Burrell hit .250 with 33 home runs and 86 RBI. Burrell, who just turned 32 in October, has averaged just under 28 HR per season while compiling a career batting average of .257. As of now, the Rays plan to use 'Pat the Bat' as their starting DH (which explains why he's 'Pat the Bat', and not 'Pat the at least somewhat mediocre fielder').

The Chicago Cubs made a big move on the very same day, signing outfielder Milton Bradley to a 3 year deal worth $30 million. Bradley, who will turn 31 at the beginning of the season, hit .321 with 22 home runs last year with the Texas Rangers, and drove in 77 runs. Bradley has several issues however. His health is the main concern. In his career dating back to 2000, he has only had 400 at bats twice in that time span. He has also had several attitude issues as well. For the money he is making and his career average of only .280, he should be thankful teams will pay for his baggage.

Markakis who just turned 25, the New York native is heading into the prime of his career. Last season Nick hit .306 with 20 home runs, while driving in 87 runs. On his career of 3 full seasons (already one more than Bradley), Markakis has a batting average of .299 and averages just under 20 HR per season.

The Orioles would be wise to make extending Nick's contract a top priority this off season. He is young, and barring any unforeseen injuries, could be a centerpiece in the O's lineup for years to come.

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