Markakis’ health may have persuaded Orioles to let him leave

Keeping right fielder Nick Markakis was not supposed to be a problem for the Orioles. Markakis was a homegrown talent, a favorite of owner Peter Angelos. Most important, he wanted to stay in Baltimore.

So, why did the Orioles lose Markakis, who agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with the Braves on Wednesday, according to major-league sources?

Let’s go to the MRI.

In March 2013, Markakis, 31, was diagnosed with a small disk herniation in his neck. And even though he appeared in 160 and 155 games the past two seasons, his condition and diminished power gave the Orioles pause, according to major-league sources.

The Orioles, under Angelos, have a history of quashing agreements due to medical concerns. They never struck a deal with Markakis, but as recently as last month it appeared a foregone conclusion they would retain him.

Instead, Markakis will join the Braves, pending a physical. According to a source, the Braves have no concerns about Markakis’ neck — they viewed a report from a specialist who performed an independent evaluation of him, and expect him to be 100 percent for spring training.

Orioles general manager Dan Duquette declined comment.

Markakis had an .819 OPS from 2006 to ’12, declined to .685 in ’13, then rebounded to .729 in his free-agent year, when he also won his second Gold Glove.