BALTIMORE -- Any day now, the Orioles will complete work on their primary offseason goal. The Baltimore Sun reported Monday that the Orioles have reached agreement with right fielder Nick Markakis on a six-year extension worth $66 million, a pact that would extend the franchise cornerstone through his first shot at free agency.
Markakis, a former first-round Draft pick, has played three seasons and would first be experiencing arbitration this year without the extension. The proposed contract would take him through his arbitration years and delay his first chance at free agency by three years, keeping Markakis in Baltimore through the 2014 season.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said he couldn't comment on the report, but he has said consistently that extending Markakis is one of his chief priorities. Baltimore has also added a starting pitcher in Koji Uehara, a shortstop in Cesar Izturis and opened a spot at catcher for top prospect Matt Wieters this winter.
The Orioles have also added a left fielder in the recent Felix Pie trade and have clarified their designated hitter picture by ceding the position to Luke Scott. Now the club is just hoping to add more depth to their starting rotation and to possibly extend second baseman Brian Roberts past his first shot at free agency.
Once Markakis' contract is finalized, only two deals in franchise history -- Miguel Tejada's six-year contract worth $72 million and Albert Belle's five-year pact for $65 million -- would even be comparable in terms of overall financial commitment. Belle got hurt and retired midway through his landmark deal, while Tejada was traded after four seasons.
Teams are required to exchange potential salary figures with their arbitration-eligible players on Tuesday, but the two sides are able to reach a deal all the way up to the arbitrator's potential ruling. The Sun is reporting that Markakis will be in Baltimore later in the week and the extension could be announced by Thursday or Friday.
Markakis didn't return a call for comment, and MacPhail demurred twice when questioned by the Sun. He told Sun reporters that the deal is "not quite there yet." And at one point, he said, "I'm not really at liberty to discuss [it]."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.