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How much is just right for Markakis?

Pull up a stool and get your calculators out. Get your wallets out, too. This might not be your money, but in a sense it is.

Every time I am on a radio talk show or someone finds out what I do for a living these days, I get asked about Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis. I get it. Everyone out there wants Markakis signed to a long-term deal.

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In today's paper, we have a story that negotiations between Markakis, who is under the club's control through 2011, and the Orioles have stalled and likely won't be picked up for six weeks or so.

Apparently, the Orioles have made a good offer, but it is less than what the Markakis camp was hoping for. Therein lies the eventual negotiation process.

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All of this is Monopoly money to us. Fifty million, 60 million, 70 million. It's incomprehensible to normal folk. And I think we all agree that no one, in any entertainment field, should have his or her own gross national product.

That said, those numbers -- and higher -- are the reality in Major League Baseball. So let's put aside the "no ballplayer's worth millions" argument, because in this day and age that's what they get paid. Whether you like it or not.

The Orioles have never agreed to a contract larger than the six-year, $72 million deal they gave Miguel Tejada in 2003. I don't know that Markakis is looking for more than that, but it's probably not too far off.

I want to know what you think is the right price for the 25-year-old right fielder. He is the club's best player, top marketing tool and most stable young building block. He probably isn't near his peak and would be giving up three years or more of free agency in exchange for long-term security in an Orioles uniform.

He is seemingly healthy and loves to play the game, but you can't discount that injuries could happen to him -- like anyone else.

Keep in mind Markakis enters his first year of arbitration as one of the best right fielders in baseball. He made $455,000 this season, but will get millions in arbitration this February -- a rough guess, and that's all this is -- is $4 million or so for 2009.

For comparison's sake, here's a list of some young, promising hitters who have agreed to extensions since 2006. Some play different positions from Markakis and others were at different levels in service time when they agreed to deals. It's impossible to pinpoint a perfect comparison, but this may give you an idea of potential market worth. (All ages are as of the end of this calendar year.)

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, 25, signed a four-year, $23 million deal in 2006.

Mets third baseman David Wright, 26, signed a six-year, $55 million deal in 2006.

Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore, 26, signed a six-year, $23.5 million deal in 2006.

Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, 30, signed a seven-year, $85 million deal in 2007.

Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Alex Rios, 27, signed a seven-year, $70 million deal in 2008.

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Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, 24, signed a six-year, $70 million deal in 2008.

Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, 25, signed an eight-year, $152 million deal in 2008.

Now you are on the spot.

What is your top value for Markakis? What should the Orioles offer and then feel confident they did their best if he doesn't accept? I'd say length of the deal is probably in the five- to seven-year range, so go with six years. How much dough is right for a six-year deal for Nick?

Daily Think Special: How much is just right for Markakis?

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