We are a little over a week away from the August 1 trade deadline, and while fans debate whether or not the Royals should be sellers or buyers, the rumors seem to suggest the Royals are looking to be buyers. Despite the great need for starting pitching, there are persistent rumors the Royals are looking for an outfield bat. Previously, they were said to be scouting Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick, but lately, they have been linked to Braves outfielder Nick Markakis. According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com:
The Royals are among the teams that have shown some interest in right fielder Nick Markakis, whose future in Atlanta is clouded by the fact that the Braves could enter 2017 with two other left-handed hitting outfielders (Ender Inciarte and Mallex Smith) who have limited power potential.
Given that Markakis has slugged just .366 this season, the Braves would almost certainly have to eat a portion of the $22 million he is owed through 2018 in order to trade him.
The Royals have been linked to Markakis before, both earlier this year and last winter. The 32-year old Markakis fits well in the Royals philosophy of high-contact hitters with gap power. He is hitting .260/.337/.366 this year with 5 HR 47 RBI in 94 games. The left-handed hitter has one of the lowest whiff rates in baseball this year. Markakis has a reputation as a solid defender, winning a Gold Glove in 2014, but the metrics are not as high on him.
Markakis has been a much better hitter away from Turner Field this year, hitting .276/.354/.420 on the road, with all five home runs coming away from Atlanta. He has seen his strikeout rate rise this year, but has always been a fairly patient hitter with a 10% walk rate. He was a 1.6 WAR player last year according to Fangraphs, but has been just a 0.4 WAR player this season.
Markakis is in the second year of a four-year contract that will pay him $11 million in each of the next two seasons. As Bowman suggests, the Braves will certainly have to eat some of that money to receive anything of consequence for Markakis. The Royals have scored the fewest runs per game in the American League this year, and only the White Sox, Yankees, and Rays have received less offensive production from the right field position this year in the American League.