It's a name that many have at least raised an eyebrow towards. With the Astros clearly in need of a more stable option in left field, not to mention Luhnow's comments that they'd be looking for one, it comes as little surprise that the players on the team might be thinking along those lines as well. Keuchel chose to single out Nick Markakis as someone he has on his mind.
In Evan Drellich's piece from the Chronicle, Keuchel had this to say:
I did see the Orioles turned down the (opportunity to extend a) qualifying offer for Markakis. I always thought he was a stud.
One key factor that Drellich points out is that, on account of the Orioles not extending Markakis a qualifying offer (which would have cost them a little over $15 million), Markakis is free to sign elsewhere without the threat of a lost draft pick hanging over his head.
This is good news for anyone in Houston hoping to bring the outfielder down to the Bayou City; Jeff Luhnow, one assumes, would be loathe to part with a high draft pick (the comp pick received from the Marlins in the Colin Moran trade, specifically), especially for a non-elite talent like Markakis.
As for the player himself, Markakis turned in a solid year in 2014; he hit .276/.342/.386, while swatting 14 long balls. While not spectacular, it was good enough for an above-average 106 wRC+; Astros' left fielders compiled just an 80 wRC+ in 2014, which was better than only the Phillies and Reds.
His biggest draw might be his consistency; 2014 was the ninth-straight season (which is his entire career) in which he's hit over .270 with double-digit homers. It was also the fourth-straight year in which he struck out less than 12% of the time.
Markakis will get a multi-year deal on account of his consistency, but he likely won't cost a fortune. If the Astros decide to be a player on him, it may well cost them $14 million a year or more to convince him to join a young team in a city far from the one he once called home.
What do you think? Are you interested in Markakis, and for what price? Do you agree with Keuchel's assessment of him?