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The Orioles don't have to sign Nick Markakis to a long-term deal anytime soon -- he's tied to the team through the 2011 season -- but the report today by Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly that negotiations have been temporarily abandoned is going to be viewed by a lot of fans as another case of Orioles front office intransigence.

I couldn't tell you if Nick is asking for too much or the Orioles are offering too little, but the player is always going to get the benefit of the doubt from the fans. It's important, however, to remember that it isn't about who's right and who's wrong. It's about settling on the right number, which is not a simple matter at Nick's level of service time.

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This kind of thing generally comes down to comparables, and the comparable contract that Markakis and his agent probably are basing his value upon belongs to Florida Marlins star Hanley Ramirez, who signed a six-year extension worth $70 million in May. The Orioles could fairly argue, however, that Ramirez has put up better all-around offensive numbers, which include an average of 191 hits and 46 stolen bases in his three full major league seasons.

Still, when it all shakes out, Markakis probably is going to get close to $10 million per year for six years, which is several lifetimes worth of security. It certainly would be a positive thing to get his contract situation out of the way, but if it gets done before he sits down for an arbitration hearing, it will be plenty soon enough.

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