Orioles Preview - Page 14 - A look back at the 2014 AL East champion Orioles (2)

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A look back at the 2014 AL East champion Orioles (2)

RF NICK MARKAKIS

 

2014 contribution: Markakis’ role in the team’s best year of this era was exactly what he provided every year—he played every day, got on base and won a Gold Glove in right field as part of a strong defensive outfield. In the playoffs, Markakis had a two-run home run to give the Orioles an early lead in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Detroit Tigers.

 

Why he’s gone: This proved to be Markakis’ last year in an Orioles uniform, as the front office didn’t want to give him a four-year contract because of health concerns. He got four years from the Atlanta Braves, for whom he has played at least 156 games in each season, batting .297 with an .806 OPS while playing 162 games in his age-34 season in 2018.

 

Where he is now: Markakis was rewarded for his first All-Star appearance with another contract from the Braves, albeit this one with a pay cut to $6 million for one season. He’s been credited as a leader on the up-and-coming Atlanta roster.

 

CF ADAM JONES

 

2014 contribution: In the third of three straight seasons when Jones was honored as an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner, Jones hit .281 with 29 home runs and 30 doubles. He played 159 games and really only got a break once things were clinched. Once the playoffs began, Jones was one of the only Orioles to be a threat in the Royals series.

 

Why he’s gone: Jones got shuffled out of center field once the team started its youth movement in August, as he was the only veteran on an expiring contract to not get traded ahead of the deadline. He was feted in his final game at Camden Yards with one last start in center field and an ovation when he was pulled from the game in the ninth inning, and the new front office didn’t show much sentiment in thinking about bringing him back.

 

Where he is now: Jones signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 11 after being one of several former All-Stars with good baseball left who had to wait well into the spring to find a job for 2019.

 

DH NELSON CRUZ

 

2014 contribution: With 40 home runs to lead the majors, Cruz was the second of four straight Orioles home run kings ( Davis twice and Mark Trumbo in 2016) during his one season in Baltimore. He not only hit .271 with an .859 OPS, but also took a mentoring role with Machado and Schoop that paid off for the Orioles for years to come.

 

Why he’s gone: Cruz rebuilt his value that year to the point that he priced himself out of the Orioles’ market, signing a four-year, $57 million contract with the Seattle Mariners that off season.

 

Where he is now: The Minnesota Twins, a young team not unlike the Orioles were at that point, brought in Cruz on a one-year, $14.3 million contract for 2019, reuniting him with Schoop.

 

SS J.J. HARDY

 

2014 contribution: If a theme is emerging here from this century’s Orioles glory days, it’s the defense: Hardy, too, won his third straight Gold Glove in 2014 while batting .268 with 37 extra-base hits. He homered in the Game 1 rout of the Tigers in the ALDS, but that was his only playoff highlight.

 

Why he’s gone: Hardy signed a contract extension during those 2014 playoffs, but didn’t top 115 games or 10 home runs in any of the three seasons of that deal before it expired after 2017. While he was injured that summer, the Orioles traded for Tim Beckham, who supplanted him as the starting shortstop.

 

Where he is now: Hardy didn’t end up with a major league deal to pick from in 2018, and with a young family, sat out the season. It was unclear whether he would’ve come back even if he could.