I remember drafting Nick Markakis as a fantasy sleeper back in college. My friend from Maryland was always talking about him like he was the next big thing. Markakis was a diamond in the rough, and I was getting him in the ninth round? Sweet.
It's not like he was a bust. As a 22-year-old rookie in 2006, Markakis hit a smooth .291/.351/.448 with 16 home runs in 542 plate appearances. He had future stud written all over him.
Although Markakis has certainly had a nice career with the Orioles, it's kind of a shame to see what's happened since his rookie year. After peaking with 23 home runs in 2007, Markakis slowly saw his power decline until he slugged just .406 with 15 home runs in 2011. The next season, he bounced back with a .298/.363/.471 line, but he played in just 104 games.
Markakis for the most part is durable, though. That 2012 campaign was the only one besides his rookie year in which he played in fewer than 150 games. Just that part would make him seem like a more attractive option that Michael Cuddyer, whom the Mets inked on Monday.
This New York outfield needs power, though, and that's something that Markakis has proven incapable of providing in his two most recent seasons. In 2013, Markakis saw is isolated power drop below .100 for the first time in his career, and in 2014 that figure was just .111 in 710 plate appearances.
He's never been a great defender, but Markakis was worth 2.5 fWAR in 2014 thanks to a .342 on-base percentage that is nothing to sneeze out nowadays. With the Orioles closing in with a long-term deal, the Mets are probably glad they struck early with Cuddyer. Although the former Rockies outfielder is about six years older than Markakis, he's also more powerful and can spell Lucas Duda against tough (or perhaps all) lefties.
Giving Markakis as many as four years when it seems his power has already faded away seems even riskier than betting on Cuddyer to hit for power at Citi Field. If they wanted iffy defense and OBP, Norichika Aoki would have made more sense for the Mets.