With Ronald Acuna, perhaps baseball’s best prospect, seen as primed to make the leap sometime in 2018, the Atlanta Braves are expected to shop at least one of two veteran outfielders — Nick Markakis or Matt Kemp – or quite possibly both of them, as Mark Bowman of MLB.com first suggested.
The Braves see Markakis as a fair value at $10.5 million for 2018, so they wouldn’t look to pay down much or any of his contract, depending on the return. However, they understand they’d have to offset the $43 million to go on Kemp’s deal through 2019.
They view Markakis as a solid pro, and different kind of corner outfielder in an era rife with power. Markakis, who turns 34 this November, is hitting .279/.361/.398 this season. His .759 OPS would be his highest mark since 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles.
Kemp showed in the first half he can still rake, but there have been questions about his health and shape in the second half, and any interested team would likely expect to pay less than his full salary. Kemp still is a middle-of-the-order presence, though his outfield play has suffered the last couple years, and he could be a better fit for an AL team at this point.
Overall, he is hitting .281/.332/.467 with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs, but he’s struggled since the All-Star break. His .702 second-half OPS is a far cry from the .826 mark he posted in the first half, and he’s hit just six home runs in the second half. Heading into Wednesday’s action, he was just 7-for-39 (.179) in September, though that does include three home runs.