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Inbox: Markakis part of Braves' offseason plans?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers fans' questions
MLB.com @mlbbowman

Will the Braves consider re-signing Nick Markakis during the offseason?
-- @DGD2018, via Twitter

This is a question that will likely linger into the early portion of December, if not longer. The Braves have internal options for third base, the starting rotation and the bullpen. Their internal options for an outfielder and a catcher consist of Markakis, Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki, who will all be 33 or older by the time the 2019 season begins.

Will the Braves consider re-signing Nick Markakis during the offseason?
-- @DGD2018, via Twitter

This is a question that will likely linger into the early portion of December, if not longer. The Braves have internal options for third base, the starting rotation and the bullpen. Their internal options for an outfielder and a catcher consist of Markakis, Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki, who will all be 33 or older by the time the 2019 season begins.

There's a chance at least one of those players will return next year, but each has been effective enough to expect contract offers that may be longer than the Braves will be willing to extend. Let me once again point out my belief that the primary disadvantage created by the designated hitter is that it provides American League teams the comfort of offering the extra year or two that a National League team can't responsibly offer to players on the wrong side of 30.

Now back to Markakis, whose resurgence during his age-34 season stands as a primary reason the Braves currently possess an NL-high 43 wins. He is a sound contact hitter and strong clubhouse leader -- qualities the Braves value significantly, and his defensive value has improved greatly, courtesy of the analytics that have aided a few Braves in the field this season. But the fact is that Markakis will turn 35 in November and has positioned himself to receive an offer of at least three years.

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This doesn't necessarily exclude the Braves as a potential suitor, but the team will most likely peruse the trade and free-agent markets for younger options before committing to Markakis. Maybe more importantly, a bulk of the club's financial flexibility might be utilized to fill other needs that extend beyond determining which outfielder will pair with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ender Inciarte next year.

Yeah, the Braves will have approximately $50 million to spend. But as we sit here at the end of June, how that money is allotted will be influenced by a number of variables, including how Austin Riley -- the club's No. 8 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- has the team feeling about third base by the end of this year. If Riley isn't deemed ready, there could be a push to sign Manny Machado or Josh Donaldson.

While it's debatable whether third base will be viewed as a primary need, you can certainly expect the pursuit of a closer who may go by the name Craig Kimbrel. With the club's only legit catching prospect (No. 17-ranked William Contreras) still at the Class A level, you can also expect the pursuit of Yasmani Grandal or another available catcher. There's also a chance the Braves will target another outfielder or a frontline starter to pair with Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb.

Until we get a better feel for what the club's primary needs will be and how expensive it will be to address them, we really won't know the likelihood of a Markakis return.

What's Riley's status?
-- @REdfeldt, via Twitter

Riley has been sidelined since spraining his right posterior cruciate ligament on June 3. His knee has improved, and he now appears to be within two weeks of rejoining Triple-A Gwinnett's lineup. That timetable creates a six-week window for him to provide an indication of whether he can maintain his power potential while reducing his strikeout rate. Riley's production over the remainder of the season will heavily influence what the Braves do during the offseason.

Is Evan Phillips ready for a callup?
-- @dasboot1atl, via Twitter

Braves fans have been clamoring for the arrival of Phillips, a reliever with a 2.31 ERA and 50 strikeouts over 35 innings for Gwinnett. The team has remained patient, allowing the 23-year-old right-hander to further develop his slider. But it now sounds like he will be considered a top candidate the next time there is a need in Atlanta's bullpen.

How is the current arrangement helping Luiz Gohara's development?
-- @JUnderwood9, via Twitter

This has been a very rough year for Gohara, but it seems he's finally in a good place, thanks to some mental perspective. His Spring Training injuries were seemingly a product of the limited preparations he made while dealing with the death of his father and his mother's illness. The struggles he experienced over the past couple of weeks in Atlanta's bullpen appeared to be influenced by his inability to keep his arm fresh during his 10 days in Brazil after his mother's heart surgery.

But Gohara needed to make that visit for peace of mind. He accepted his recent demotion to Gwinnett and showed some promise, recording seven strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings. Each of the three runs he allowed was surrendered within the first inning of his first start since he faced the Phillies on May 23.

Gohara will continue to develop as a starter and could be an asset in Atlanta's rotation at some point this year. But if he fully regains the fastball velocity he had last year and rounds back into form, don't be surprised if the Braves once again give Gohara a chance to provide depth as a multiple-inning reliever who could consistently be used in high-leverage situations.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves