Braves Should Absolutely Pick up Team-Friendly Nick Markakis Option and Re-Sign Josh Donaldson

Divisional Series - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves - Game One
Divisional Series - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves - Game One / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves won the NL East this year thanks to a perfect blend of young stars and solid veteran contributions. And while guys like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies aren't going anywhere, the Braves need to ensure that vets Nick Markakis and Josh Donaldson return for 2020.

The two play significantly different roles on the team, but are crucial to the Braves' success in the near future.

Atlanta can either keep Markakis via a $6 million option or exercise a $2 million buyout. For a team that's expected to have a good amount of payroll available, this $4 million decision should be a no-brainer.

Markakis' .285/.356/.420 batting line is respectable enough, combined with his locker room presence, that the Braves should feel good about committing the money to the almost-36-year-old for one more year.

Donaldson's future on the team, however, is much less certain.

Though he mashed 37 homers and a .900 OPS, the former AL MVP is set to be a free agent and will surely be pursued by several teams, particularly American League clubs.

While his age (33) and injury history may concern the Braves regarding a long-term commitment, the team lacks a clear replacement at third base. Austin Riley and Johan Camargo have not proven themselves as Major Leaguers, and it's unlikely that Atlanta will shell out the cash to sign Anthony Rendon this winter.

With that in mind, a short-term, high-salary deal would make perfect sense for the man who was arguably the Braves' team MVP after catching fire in the dog days of summer.

Though Atlanta has plenty of cheap, young stars leading the team, Markakis and Donaldson are truly productive and mean too much to the locker room for the Braves not to do everything possible to bring them back in 2020.