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Sure enough, the vast majority of the comments that followed my post about the temporary impasse in the Nick Markakis contract negotiations cast Andy MacPhail and the front office as the bad guys. I'm even taking a little heat for trying to explain why it's a little early to indict the club for failing to get a deal done at this point in the offseason.

Let's get away from the emotional reaction for a moment. I don't know who's offering what, but I'm pretty sure the Orioles are within spitting distance of the kind of money everybody figured that Nick would get if you looked at the comparable contracts. The final number probably will be an average of about $10 million per year for six years. Maybe a little more. My guess would be $63 million when it's all said and done.

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For the give-him-whatever-he-wants crowd, here's a little Business 101: MacPhail's job is to sign Nick at the lowest number that Nick will be satisfied with. The process that gets you to that number takes time and it's not as simple as just the dollars and cents. There are other things the player may want -- a no-trade clause, for instance -- and there are other things the club might want, such as option years and physical safety language. It's a little more complicated than just giving him what Alex Rios got and being done with it.

It's easy to point to the Rays and their long-term deal with Evan Longoria and ask why the O's can't do the same thing, but that's comparing apples and oranges. Longoria signed for a guarantee of only $17.5 million, because he was in his first month at the major league level. Markakis, because he has three full seasons in, will command more than three times that guarantee, even though most people in baseball would trade him for Longoria in a second.

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