Atlanta Braves' Biggest Regret at the MLB Offseason's 2-Month Mark

Daniel KockContributor IIIDecember 23, 2014

Atlanta Braves newest outfielder Nick Markakis speaks with reporters in the baseball team's clubhouse, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Atlanta. Markakis signed a four-year contract with the team on Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman/Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves have completely transformed their roster this offseason as we sit at the two-month mark.

The man pegged to be the future face of the franchise as he ascended through the minors (Jason Heyward), was traded away to St. Louis.

The player who generated so much excitement as he completed the most thrilling outfield in the game (Justin Upton) did not last as long in Atlanta as the "throw in" (Chris Johnson) from that trade.

John Hart made the clear decision that this team needed to get younger and build a stronger roster for the future.

While this could lead to a frustrating 2015 season, I think many Braves fans can see the potential benefits of these trades in the upcoming years.

However, one move the Braves made this offseason just doesn't fit what they're trying to do in the big picture.

Just weeks after trading Heyward, the Braves signed outfielder Nick Markakis to a four-year deal.

The 31-year-old is a nice player, but the Braves shouldn't have committed to paying him $11 million a season over the next four years.

This move did not make the Braves younger, and it didn't shed payroll—the two things Hart has been looking to do this offseason.

Strictly as a player for the upcoming season, Markakis will fit nicely. The Braves obviously had a hole in the outfield, and Markakis will be able to hit at the top of the order.

But, the Braves are not in win-now mode, and it doesn't look like Markakis will be worth $11 million over the next four years.

Let's take a look at his nine-year career to this point.

Markakis averaged 17.8 home runs with a .297 average and .830 OPS over his first five seasons. Meanwhile, he's averaged 13 home runs with a .282 average and .751 OPS over his past four seasons.

There's been a clear drop in production. It's reasonable to expect a 31-year-old to have more drop-off in production as he ages to 35 and moves into a less friendly park for hitters in Turner Field.

Let's say he does maintain his production over the past four seasons in the next four. According to Fangraphs, he'd have just one season worth the $11 million the Braves are paying him.

We should also note that Markakis underwent neck surgery this offseason. The Braves have maintained that this does not concern them, but it does not provide fans with much confidence, especially considering the injury troubles the Braves have had in recent seasons.

The Braves had to sign someone this offseason, as they don't have a prospect ready to fill the outfield.

However, it would have been smarter to look for an outfielder on a two-year deal. I think Nori Aoki would have been the smarter player for the Braves to pursue. It will be interesting to see the deal Aoki strikes in free agency.

As this offseason has unfolded, the Markakis signing becomes more of a head-scratcher.

We'll see if he can maintain his production over the past few seasons or regain some of his power from early in his career.

But at this point, I think the Braves will look back in a few seasons and wish they hadn't committed the years and dollars to Markakis that they did.