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Reports: Talks between Markakis, O's pick up

BALTIMORE -- It would be tough to imagine Nick Markakis not in an Orioles uniform next season. And after Thursday's latest batch of reports, it's looking more and more like that's a scenario the O's won't have to worry about.

Markakis, a free agent for the first time in his career, has made it no secret that he wants to remain in Baltimore, and talks between his agent, Jamie Murphy, and the Orioles have picked back up, according to multiple outlets.

The Orioles started negotiations with Markakis shortly after their loss in the American League Championship Series, and it appeared both sides were on the same page with regard to a long-term contract. But the negotiations have taken longer than expected in working toward a four-year deal that would keep the veteran in Baltimore through 2018.

The 30-year-old Markakis is coming off his second Gold Glove Award-winning season, and he is a quiet leader in the Orioles' clubhouse, taking over leadoff duties and priding himself on his durability in right field. Markakis hit .276 in 155 games last season, and he is a lifetime .290 hitter in nine seasons in Baltimore.

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said that re-signing Markakis wouldn't automatically take the club out of the running for Nelson Cruz, one of their other major free agents, as Baltimore is preparing to increase its payroll from this past season.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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