Orioles Lock Up Markakis

Michael CastilloContributor IJanuary 19, 2009

A day after trading former can't-miss prospect Garrett Olsen to the Cubs, the Baltimore have locked up can't-miss superstar Nick Markakis to a long term deal, putting aside arbitration talks.

The Orioles and outfielder Nick Markakis agreed to a six-year, $66 million extension, pending a physical, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney. Markakis, 25, hit .306 last season for Baltimore, leading the team. He has hit at least 20 home runs in two of his three seasons and has a .299 career average in 465 games with Baltimore.

Link: ESPN

The extension is a move in the right direction for the Orioles under the direction of President Andy MacPhail, who has received heat during his tenure with the club.

With the departures of Erik Bedard and B.J. Ryan, the Orioles made a commitment to rebuilding the once proud franchise. Although the process is long from over, signing Markakis to a long-term deal can let the fans of Baltimore to rest easy over the right fielder.

Along with the addition of former Cub prospect Felix Pie, the Orioles' have plenty of youth in the outfield with Markakis, Pie and Adam Jones.  The club now has lots of speed and pace in the outfield, but the growth of all three are at different stages.

While Markakis is the face of the franchise at just 25, Adam Jones will be 23 in 2009, and is not as far behind as you would think. He hit .270 last summer in 477 at bats and as a full-time starter again this year, he should grow nicely for the O's.

Pie, on the other hand, is a different story. Once coined as the next big thing in Chicago, his play has been mediocre at best in the big leagues, although his play in the Pacific Coast League is all-world. If he can piece his game together and fix the loops in his swing, Baltimore could have the best young outfield in the majors, but give it time as that is a big "if" and an even bigger "could."

For now, having Markakis as a corner stone in the franchise is a key piece to the resurrection of the Orioles.