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Orioles have made "significant progress" on a four-year deal with Nick Markakis

The Orioles and Nick Markakis are close on a four-year deal between $40-48 million guaranteed.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The seemingly inevitable march towards the re-signing of Nick Markakis goes on. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Orioles and Markakis have made "significant progress" towards a four-year deal that will be in the range of $10-12 million dollars annually. That amounts to somewhere between $40-48 million guaranteed, which sounds like a lot for Markakis, but that's life.

Previously, a reported sticking point was a question about deferred money and how that would be dispersed. Deferring money is a potential smart move for the team, as saving money now is worth more to them than worrying about saving money later. That's not carte blanche to do something crazy like the infamous Mets-Bobby Bonilla thing. It does give them some flexibility, though. J.J. Hardy's recently-negotiated contract extension also includes some deferred money.

The benefit of this is that it gives the O's more chance to afford everybody in the present even as arbitration salaries escalate. They might even be able to do something crazy like sign a free agent before the month of February. Hopefully that free agent is not A.J. Burnett, to whom Passan reports the Orioles have made an offer. What is Dan Duquette's fascination with Burnett? The world may never know.

Markakis has long been said to be a favorite of Orioles owner Peter Angelos. They may well have wanted to retain Markakis independent of that, but with that connection, it seemed hard to believe he would get away. Is that worth $12 million a year when they could have reasonably passable internal options? I guess we'll find out.

It's also entirely possible the Orioles aren't so enthused with their internal options compared to Markakis, which could include the likes of David Lough, Alejandro De Aza, and Dariel Alvarez. If Nelson Cruz gets away, they'll already be using one of those guys in left field.

I would have been surprised all along if Markakis got away. Now it seems it's only a matter of time before he is officially back, with the only question being how many dollars and how much that will make us wince.