Nick Markakis had his contract renewed by the Birds the other day, after negotiations for a long-term deal apparently reached a standstill. The renewal comes with a $55,000 raise, and Nick will make $455,000 this season (it seems strange to discuss professional athletes’ salaries in the thousands, doesn’t it?). Markakis is understandably not too happy about the whole scenario. As the newly crowned face of the franchise, not to mention the reigning team MVP, he stands to make less money than such players as Adam Loewen and Jeremy Guthrie this season. Markakis told the Sun, “That’s just how the Orioles feel. I don’t have much of a choice. I’m just going to have to deal with it,” before leaving the training complex early.This sort of thing happens to young players. It is just the way the system is set up in the MLB. The owners have all the leverage when players are starting their careers, and the balance of power shifts to the players as they gain experience and become eligible for free agency. The Milwaukee Brewers’ 2007 MVP, Prince Fielder, just went through the same thing with his team, and is just as ticked. Fielder had his contract renewed to $670,000 in 2008 after earning $450,000 in ’07, when he finished 3rd in the NL MVP voting. Said Fielder, “”There are a lot of guys with the same amount of time I have who have done a lot less than me and are getting paid a lot more.” So we’re just saying – it ain’t uncommon.
The O’s need to do what they can to say on Markakis’ good side after this, making sure he understands the business side of things, and reassuring him that they DO plan on paying him handsomely in the very near future. The centerpiece of the youth movement and rebuilding project here in B-More, Nick has to be convinced that he will get a fair shake. Do whatever you need to do to accomplish this Mr. Macphail:
Weekly steaks at Ruth’s Cris on the team? Done.
New electric razor for 5 o’clock shadow maintenance? The bat boy is at radio shack as we speak.
All the in-room entertainment he wants, charged to the room of Aubrey Huff? Sure. Here’s his room number.
Whatever. He. Wants. The O’s are probably making the right decision here from a business standpoint, but they need to be careful. Allow Nick a few days to steam and have his little hissy fits if he wants to, but be there to welcome him back aboard with open arms (and wallets) sooner rather than later when he calms down.