Nick Markakis retires after 15 years with Braves, Orioles

Outfielder Nick Markakis has retired after 15-year career with the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles. 

The 37-year-od Markakis, 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 in his final season.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 17: Nick Markakis #22 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning in Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 17, 2020 i

Braves manager Brian Snitker called Markakis "the consummate pro in everything he did." 

Even though he no longer fit into the team's plans, Snitker said Markakis' presence was missed in the Braves clubhouse. The manager talked with him 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."

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Both of teams that 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," said the Orioles, who were Markakis' team for his first nine seasons. "Thank you for the memories, the hustle, and your countless contributions to this organization. Best of luck in your next chapter, Nick!"

Markakis joined the Orioles 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 pandemic-shortened 2020 season, 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 won two playoff series -- their first postseason victories since 2001 -- and took a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. But Los Angeles 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 season with the Orioles. He had double-figure homers every year in Baltimore, including a career-best 23 in 2007.

A native of suburban Atlanta, Markakis joined his hometown team as a free agent in 2015 while the team was going through a painful rebuilding process. After three tough years, the Braves broke through to capture the NL East title in 2018, with Markakis playing a key role.

"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 All-Star Game for the first time.

Markakis had a more limited role his final two seasons with the Braves, but 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."