The Winter Meetings begin tomorrow in Nashville, but the rumors are already upon us. The Royals are reportedly looking at a number of outfielders in case they lose out on Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo. Cafardo had previously reported the Royals' interest in Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and it was already known they were interested in free agent outfielder Gerardo Parra. Cafardo adds another outfield name to the list of options for Dayton Moore, Braves outfielder Nick Markakis.
Markakis signed a four-year, $44 million deal with Atlanta last winter, but it appears the team is in full "sell" mode, which could possibly lead to him being traded. The long-time Orioles outfielder hit .296/.370/.376 with 3 HR 53 RBI and 1.6 fWAR in 156 games. Markakis has a low strikeout rate at just 12.4% in his career, but can still get on base at a good rate with walks. He has hit as many as 23 home runs in a season in the past, but his power has declined quite a bit, although he still has good gap power, with 38 doubles last year. Markakis is a two-time Gold Glove winner, winning as recently as 2014, but according to the metrics he's been subpar as a right-fielder.
With only two years left on his deal, Markakis has the kind of short-term contract the Royals are looking for. The Braves should not expect a great prospect in exchange for the 32-year old outfielder unless they are willing to eat some money.
Cafardo also speculates that Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz would make "perfect sense" for the Royals as they search for a starting pitcher. The 31-year old right-hander had a 3.26 ERA in 18 starts for Boston last year with a 2.68 FIP. He is due to receive $13 million next season with a $13.5 million club option in 2017.