ATLANTA — Nick Markakis has retired after a 15-year MLB career with the Atlanta Braves and the Baltimore Orioles.
The 37-year-old outfielder, who was a free agent, told The Athletic in a story published Friday that he was done playing after accumulating 2,388 hits, earning his lone All-Star selection in 2018 and coming within one win of reaching the World Series last year in his final season.
Braves manager Brian Snitker called Markakis "the consummate pro in everything he did."
Even though he no longer fit into Atlanta's plans, Snitker said the veteran's presence was missed in the clubhouse at spring training. The manager talked with Markakis on Thursday about his retirement plans before he made them official.
"It's a big hole in there without him," Snitker said. "We all miss him. Just his stability and the calming influence he had on everybody. It was just a great career. ... I felt honored to manage him for the last few years of his career."
Both teams Markakis played for congratulated him on his career.
"We wish you all the best in your retirement, Nick!" the Braves wrote on their Twitter account.
"Congrats to Nick Markakis on his retirement from baseball after an incredible 15-year career," wrote the Orioles, for whom Markakis played his first nine MLB seasons after being the No 7 overall draft pick in 2003. "Thank you for the memories, the hustle, and your countless contributions to this organization. Best of luck in your next chapter, Nick!"
Markakis, who played both high school and college baseball in Georgia, made his debut with Baltimore in 2006 and played at least 104 games every season until his last, finishing with a career average of .288. He initially opted out of the 2020 season, which was delayed and shortened by the COVI-19 pandemic, only to change his mind and return to the Braves in a part-time role.
He hit a walk-off homer in his first game back and nearly reached the World Series for the first time. The Braves swept through the wild-card and division rounds of the playoffs — they had not won a postseason series since 2001 — and took a 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers, though, rallied for three straight victories to advance to the World Series, where they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays.
Markakis twice batted .300 and had a pair of 100-RBI seasons with the Orioles. He had double-figure homers every year in Baltimore, including a career-best 23 in 2007.
Markakis joined his hometown team as a free agent in 2015, when the Braves were going through a painful rebuilding process. After three tough years, Atlanta broke through to capture the NL East title in 2018, with Markakis playing a key role. The Braves repeated as division champions in 2019 and won a third straight title last season.
"He brought exactly what we were looking for," Snitker said. "The stability, the professionalism. He was accountable to everybody. He went through some tough times here. He's to be commended for that."
In 2018, Markakis played all 162 games, batted .297 with 14 homers and 93 RBIs, and was selected to the MLB All-Star Game for the first time. He had a more limited role his final two seasons with the Braves, but he was still a productive player and immensely popular with his teammates.
He came up just short of the ultimate stage.
"We got a game away from the World Series," Snitker said. "I would have loved to do that for him. He was what the Atlanta Braves are all about."