The Baltimore Sun's Orioles editor Dean Jones Jr. talks about outfielder Nick Markakis agreeing to a four-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones had played alongside Nick Markakis for seven seasons. They became good friends and are often talked about in one breath: Markakis and Jones; Jones and Markakis.
Now, with Markakis signing a four-year, $44 million deal with the Atlanta Braves, and Jones under contract with the Orioles through 2018, they no longer will be playing together.
Markakis contacted Jones on Wednesday to let him know what was going on before it went public.
This is what Jones had to say today about Markakis' decision:
"My initial thought was, 'Damn, I am losing not just a longtime teammate, but Baltimore is losing a pillar in the community, a stand-up guy. A hell of a ballplayer, a guy who comes to work every single day. And then the realization [sank in] that the Braves are going to get that benefit now. He was talking about how it all broke down, and hey, I'm not mad at him. If you want to treat it like a business, treat it like a business and he made a great business move for himself and his family. As a teammate, I'm gonna miss him. But as a friend, I'm not going to see him as often, but I will see him and we will still remain friends. Nothing has changed except that we will be playing against each other. And I told him not to hit the ball my way."
Jones had said repeatedly that he expected Markakis to re-sign. And so he said he is obviously disappointed from that standpoint:
"I thought [Markakis re-signing] was going to happen. When you think of the Orioles, you think of Nick Markakis in my eyes. He was just that gritty guy. If you want to break it down into business terms, that's what happened with this situation. It was business. And, OK, this is how business is. … The reason why Markakis is [special] is, you know the Oriole Way? Well he is the definition of the Oriole Way. He straps it on. He plays every day, plays hard, runs hard down the line. He dives, he's gritty. Got eye black on. Plays the game hard, plays the game with respect. That's the Oriole Way."
The sense is that the Orioles changed their minds about signing Markakis to a four-year deal. There were some concerns about a bulging disk in his neck that he has played with -- for 315 regular-season games -- since the beginning of 2013. The Braves saw the reports and were not concerned.
Here's Jones' take on that:
"Out of the 1,000 games I've played with the Orioles, the only games he missed, that he wasn't by my side, was [in 2012] when he had the broken hamate and missed a month and a half and [the broken thumb] in September. What, roughly 70 games out of almost 1,100 games played that I played with him? So when you say durability, he played 97 percent of his contract. And he was going to play 99.8 percent of it, but he broke the hamate [and thumb]. So you can't say durability is an issue. One thing about me and him is we post up. J.J. [Hardy], posts up, [Matt] Wieters posts up. We have guys who post. Durability and Nick Markakis, using that against somebody, that's like saying [Buck] Showalter is not prepared, he's just lucky."
"Those aren't even question marks for us. Those aren't even brought up. But I'm not the one making the evaluation. I'm not the one making the contract offer. I'm just the one pushing to have the guy that I know that can do the job with this team and push this team. It's business. I've got no animosity toward it. He doesn't. It's how it works. He's happy. He gets to go back to Atlanta. He'll get him a big old farm down there with all this land and enjoy it and get to see his parents a little more often. So, hey, more power to him."
The Orioles have also lost outfielder-designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who led the major leagues with 40 home runs last year.
Here's Jones on losing Cruz and what he said to him when he heard about the four-year, $58 million deal he signed with the Seattle Mariners:
"We lost Cruz and Markakis -- that's two big holes. I texted Cruz the other day. I said, 'Congratulations, man. You deserve it. I'm glad you did the best for you and your family. I'm going to miss you. I'm going to miss all that damn food you bring in. But I'm not going to miss all the 35 people you bring in every damn day [to the clubhouse]. I'm not going to miss that. I'm not going to miss your dad and uncle sleeping on the couches. I'm not going to miss that.' But, seriously, I'm happy for him. But this game has turned into a business. And with all the sabermetrics and all the statisticians and with all that going on, I think they are really using that as a platform for a lot of contracts. I'm locked in, so I don't know what free agency feels like. But when you break it down and see how it all works, how the process works out, sometimes it's the hardest decision in the league.
Jones on Markakis not playing his whole career in Baltimore:
"Sometimes you have to make tough decisions and [Markakis], he made a tough decision, I think, for playing sake in terms of playing his whole career with one team. Because doing all that, playing 10 years with one team straight or 13 years that he could have had with a four-year contract, that's special because things like that don't happen with today's game and all the trades. That was something that was really special for him, but at the end of the day he had to make a business decision for his family, for him, professionally. And you can't just sit there and give anyone some discount because you like them. If it's to be treated like a business, you have to treat it like a business. He did and I'm glad he did."
Jones on why he thinks the negotiations with Markakis broke down:
"I don't know. I wasn't down with it. I wasn't in those meetings. I don't know what was said, I don't know what wasn't said. I'm sure I could sit down and get at least one and a half sides, but I'm not the one with the evaluations, I guess."
"Now we'll see what's the move. This is something I believed in while signing a six-year deal. Now, it's OK if you make a move like this; these are two big moves. If you look at it monetarily, these are two guys are getting $100 million dollars. So these are two guys that are eating $25 million a year business-wise. I don't think that's crazy for them, [the Orioles] might think that is. So, OK, the plan is me trusting Showalter. The famous slogan 'In Buck we trust, Baltimore.' So he has to have something up his sleeve, now we just have to sit and wait. It's a long offseason. The winter meetings are coming, it's a lot of things that are happening now. It's crazy, though. To me, I feel like I lost my superstar teammate. It's like I lost one of my core, but we'll see what they've got up their sleeves.
Jones on his role now:
"All I want is for the team to make the best moves for the team. I don't know what the best move for the team is in that term. Because, at end of day, I go out there and play. I'm not the one behind [the scenes] making all the moves. I can only suggest. I don't know the economics or evaluation of it. I can just say I want this guy on my team because I like the way he plays, he puts up numbers. He does this. He plays the game like this."
"I think my teammates respect my opinion because I'm passionate. You want to win and you want to have the guys that help you win. I mean, something has to be brewing in order for them to let Markakis go. I have to have the respect for the front office that they deserve. I have to see what Showalter and Dan [Duquette] have up their sleeves. I've reached out to them, seeing what ideas they have, not much luck there. But, hey, they have something up their sleeves. It's a long offseason. They better have something up their sleeves."