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Krusty
12-16-2008, 06:51 AM
Source: Furcal to sign with Bravesby Ken Rosenthal
Ken Rosenthal has been the senior baseball writer for FOXSports.com since Aug. 2005. He appears weekly on the FSN Baseball Report and MLB on FOX.



Updated: December 16, 2008, 3:55 AM EST 9 comments add this RSS blog email Print The Braves are on the verge of a major offseason upset.

Rafael Furcal is coming home.

In a stunning turnaround, the free-agent shortstop has chosen the Braves over the A's, according to a major-league source.

A contract agreement is expected to be announced Tuesday, conditional on Furcal passing a physical.

"They're in deep," Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, told FOXSports.com on Monday night, before a decision had been reached. "He's seriously considering it."

The A's are believed to have made the high offer for Furcal four years in the $40 million range, according to major-league sources.

The Braves, however, made a late, rapid push for Furcal, and their offer was believed to be for three years with a vesting option for a fourth season.

Furcal, who owns homes in Atlanta and Los Angeles, preferred to rejoin the Braves or stay with the Dodgers, sources said.

One rival executive said Monday night, "He will do whatever he can not to go to Oakland," citing Furcal's preference to be with one of his prior teams.

Furcal, 31, left the Braves for the Dodgers after the 2005 season, signing a three-year, $39 million free-agent contract.

His return to Atlanta would give the Braves stunning flexibility in their middle infield, perhaps enabling them to revive their trade talks for Padres right-hander Jake Peavy.

Furcal could switch to second base, a position he has played in winter ball, if the Braves move Kelly Johnson to left field or trade Johnson for an outfielder or pitching help.

Or, Furcal could remain at shortstop if the Braves trade Yunel Escobar, either as part of a Peavy package or in a separate deal.

The availability of Peavy, however, is unclear.

"We are no longer actively pursuing any trade for Jake, which is not to say someone won't approach us," Padres president Sandy Alderson told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday.

"We said from the very beginning ... that we would not make a trade unless it made baseball sense."

The Braves began the offseason intent on landing two quality starting pitchers. They acquired right-hander Javier Vazquez from the White Sox but failed in attempts to land Peavy and sign free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett.

The addition of Furcal could lead the Braves to continue their pursuits of less prominent free-agent pitchers such as left-hander Randy Wolf and Japanese right-hander Kenshin Kawakami. But it also would give them the option to explore bigger deals.

Kinzer said last week that the A's, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Royals were the four finalists for Furcal. The Blue Jays and Royals, however, fell out of the running because of economic reasons, according to major-league sources. The Dodgers apparently were not willing to offer Furcal more than two years.

Orlando Cabrera would become the top shortstop on the free-agent market if the Braves complete their deal with Furcal, becoming a prime candidate for the Dodgers.

Other options for the Dodgers would include re-signing Angel Berroa, a lesser free agent, or trading for the Pirates' Jack Wilson.

Mario-Rijo
12-16-2008, 07:03 AM
Sweet, now to make a deal for Escobar!!! Trade them Arroyo and then go and sign Randy Wolf to a cheaper per year shorter term deal than Arroyo had. 2 yrs. 7-8 per.

camisadelgolf
12-16-2008, 08:21 AM
I would take a lot more than Arroyo to get Escobar, but that would be a good place to start.

Mario-Rijo
12-16-2008, 08:25 AM
I would take a lot more than Arroyo to get Escobar, but that would be a good place to start.

Too me it depends. Were those errors Escobar had the product of a possible shoulder injury I have heard he had last season. Or were they a product of a Felipe Lopez approach to the game? If it's the former I probably would agree (depending on the severity of said injury), if it's the latter he doesn't look nearly as promising and thus not worthy of Arroyo on his own.

Raisor
12-16-2008, 08:46 AM
I would like to remind everyone that I predicted this months ago.

RedLegSuperStar
12-16-2008, 09:12 AM
Seems like to me they' keep Escobar for ss, move Furcal to 2nd, and Johnson to OF.

deltachi8
12-16-2008, 10:22 AM
I would like to remind everyone that I predicted this months ago.

That's why you have multiple Nobel prizes...

BRM
12-16-2008, 10:27 AM
I would like to remind everyone that I predicted this months ago.

Tooting your own horn again? You're such a modest fellow.

PuffyPig
12-16-2008, 10:31 AM
Seems like to me they' keep Escobar for ss, move Furcal to 2nd, and Johnson to OF.

If you want to maximize the value of middle infielders, you don't move them.

Furcal has way less value as a secondbaseman, and Johnson likely goes from an above average seconbaseman to a below average LF.

Trading Escobar is the best way to maximize the value the Braves have.

Heath
12-16-2008, 10:36 AM
Yay us.

One less .OBP and defensively challenged fast guy off the market.

Screwball
12-16-2008, 10:56 AM
Yay us.

One less .OBP and defensively challenged fast guy off the market.

Not sure I'd call him OBP challenged. His OBP over the last 9 season is .352. The league average during that same time period is .344.

Also, I haven't seen Furcal play much the last couple years, but is he really that bad defensively? A quick check at The Fielding Bible doesn't show him to be among the worst SS's in the game, though nor is he among the best. I always just assumed he was pretty good defensively due to his quickness and rocket arm.

camisadelgolf
12-16-2008, 11:22 AM
Not sure I'd call him OBP challenged. His OBP over the last 9 season is .352. The league average during that same time period is .344.

Also, I haven't seen Furcal play much the last couple years, but is he really that bad defensively? A quick check at The Fielding Bible doesn't show him to be among the worst SS's in the game, though nor is he among the best. I always just assumed he was pretty good defensively due to his quickness and rocket arm.

Based on my personal observations, 2008 was a step backwards for Furcal defensively. Until this year, he was always one of the best at his position, though. I chalk up his regression a lot more to injuries than age or ability.

Johnny Footstool
12-16-2008, 11:24 AM
I'd pretty much empty the minors to acquire Escobar.

Unfortunately, I think the Braves are going to keep him.

Raisor
12-16-2008, 11:30 AM
Tooting your own horn again? You're such a modest fellow.

And good lookin too.

membengal
12-16-2008, 11:56 AM
Echo Footstool on Escobar, time to make a run at him. He solves a lot of short and long term needs on this team...

Spitball
12-16-2008, 11:57 AM
Based on my personal observations, 2008 was a step backwards for Furcal defensively. Until this year, he was always one of the best at his position, though. I chalk up his regression a lot more to injuries than age or ability.

After Furcal returned from surgery last season, he didn't look like the same defender. Remember he made three errors in the Dodgers' game five loss in the NLCS.

If Escobar can't be packaged for a Peavy type starter, the Braves would be wise to keep him as insurance against injuries to Chipper Jones or Furcal. Those two have the ages and injury histories to dictate some competent backup. Also, Escobar seems to have performed best in that role.

Raisor
12-16-2008, 01:18 PM
Reports say that Kelly Johnson will be moving to LF with Furcal playing 2B.

RedEye
12-16-2008, 01:18 PM
Perhaps it is time to float a Harang deal by the Braves?

Harang for Escobar + JoJo Reyes + another good prospect? Then the team is set cheaply at SS and leadoff for the foreseeable future. Sign Bradley or Burrell and platoon Taveras/Dickerson in CF until Stubbs is ready to take over. (I know Walt hasn't signed Willy yet, and I'd prefer he not do it, but he probably will).

Realistically, I don't think Arroyo could fetch Escobar, but I think Harang would... and we'd still have Volquez, Cueto and Arroyo to fill out the staff... plus Harang's money to sign someone to fill the void (Wolf? Lowe?)

Thoughts? Is Harang too valuable to give up?

Spitball
12-16-2008, 01:20 PM
Thoughts? Is Harang too valuable to give up?

I think so.

BRM
12-16-2008, 01:20 PM
Reports say that Kelly Johnson will be moving to LF with Furcal playing 2B.

He'll be one of the lightest hitting LF'ers in the league.

RedEye
12-16-2008, 01:26 PM
I think so.

What type of return would it take from ATL to give him up then? Escobar + two more premium prospects?

Look, I like Harang as much as the next guy. He's got a great contract, too. But, I think you could also make the argument that he's the pitching version of BP. He's maxed out his value right now and is likely only to either stay at the same level or regress further. You keep him, you've still got a great deal... but you deal him and you might get a fantastic, roster-emboldening return.

We always say the Reds are a few parts away from contending. Bang for your buck, Harang may be the best player they can offer to fill a few of those needs at once.

Just sayin'. Course if the Braves move Furcal to 2B and Johnson to the OF, this is all moot.

Spitball
12-16-2008, 01:46 PM
What type of return would it take from ATL to give him up then? Escobar + two more premium prospects?

Look, I like Harang as much as the next guy. He's got a great contract, too. But, I think you could also make the argument that he's the pitching version of BP. He's maxed out his value right now and is likely only to either stay at the same level or regress further. You keep him, you've still got a great deal... but you deal him and you might get a fantastic, roster-emboldening return.

I think a 200-plus innings-eater is just too valuable. He pitches deeply into games and saves the bullpen which protects Volquez and Cueto who regularly reach the 100 pitch mark by the fifth inning.

Escobar has not convinced me he can be a full-time shortstop. As a fill-in, he looked very good. After being pressed into full-time duty, the Braves were reportedly not happy with his defense. I don't know, maybe the memory of Felipe Lopez is just too fresh in my mind.

lollipopcurve
12-16-2008, 01:50 PM
Escobar has not convinced me he can be a full-time shortstop.

He's 6'2" and 200 lb. A lot of the talk around him about a year ago was that he'd eventually move to 3B. But that's probably a ways down the road....

My sense is the Braves would want a younger, less expensive arm. Reports have them interested in Greinke and Maholm. Both of those guys look like much better investments than Harang or Arroyo at the moment.

Johnny Footstool
12-16-2008, 02:28 PM
I think a 200-plus innings-eater is just too valuable. He pitches deeply into games and saves the bullpen which protects Volquez and Cueto who regularly reach the 100 pitch mark by the fifth inning.

Escobar has not convinced me he can be a full-time shortstop. As a fill-in, he looked very good. After being pressed into full-time duty, the Braves were reportedly not happy with his defense. I don't know, maybe the memory of Felipe Lopez is just too fresh in my mind.

Despite the throwing errors, THT rates him as an excellent SS with great range.

Tom Servo
12-16-2008, 02:38 PM
I'd rather sign Orlando Hudson and move BP to short than give up a ton for Escobar. But that's me.

camisadelgolf
12-16-2008, 02:46 PM
I'd rather sign Orlando Hudson and move BP to short than give up a ton for Escobar. But that's me.

In theory, I would, too, but that takes away most of the money available to sign an impact outfielder.

RedEye
12-16-2008, 02:52 PM
I'd rather sign Orlando Hudson and move BP to short than give up a ton for Escobar. But that's me.

I think most RedsZoners would, but the problem is that the people who actually run the team have shown zero inclination to move BP.

Benihana
12-16-2008, 03:41 PM
I would offer Bronson Arroyo straight up for Escobar. If the Braves refuse, I walk away. I would not trade Harang for him. I really like Escobar, but at that point I would rather focus on getting a big bat elsewhere and improving the defense, rather than lose a guy like Harang.

BRM
12-16-2008, 05:46 PM
The latest from Rotoworld.



GM Ned Colletti said he's been told by Rafael Furcal's agent that the Dodgers are still in the mix for the shortstop.

"We're still in conversations with them," Colletti said Tuesday. "I don't have a feel whether to be optimistic or not. I just know we're still talking. They assured us it's not a done deal. There's a certain level we're not going past. We aren't aware of other deals." After Paul Kinzer hasn't said anything in the last few hours, but he did indicate this morning, after the Furcal-to-the-Braves stories broke, that nothing had been decided yet. It's still assumed that Furcal will join the Braves on a three-year deal.

Highlifeman21
12-16-2008, 05:48 PM
I'd rather sign Orlando Hudson and move BP to short than give up a ton for Escobar. But that's me.

But do we know how Hudson will bounce back after that wrist injury?

I'd love to take a chance on him, and have the DP combo of BP to O Dog, but that would also require BP moving to SS, which given the Reds void at SS since Barry Larkin you would have thought they'd move BP to SS by now, but....

lollipopcurve
12-16-2008, 06:09 PM
Sounds to me like Raffy's iffy on this whole make a decision thing.

Spitball
12-16-2008, 09:22 PM
Sources: Furcal eyes Braves, Dodgers
ESPN.com news services

Updated: December 16, 2008, 7:52 PM ET
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The courting of free agent Rafael Furcal has turned into something of a circus, with many twists and turns -- and the way it's playing out, somebody is going to be irked.

On Monday afternoon, officials involved in Furcal's negotiations were convinced that the Oakland Athletics, with an offer of four years and $38 million, were the front-runner to sign the shortstop.

Wrong.

Late Monday night, club executives engaged in talks with Furcal's representatives were informed that Furcal was on the verge of a deal with the Atlanta Braves, at three years and $30 million, and a vesting option for the fourth year based on Furcal playing 132 games in the third year of the contract.

Wrong.

Now sources are saying that the Los Angeles Dodgers have re-engaged in negotiations with Furcal, and as of Tuesday afternoon were working to bring back the shortstop.

Where it stops, nobody knows.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Furcal had reached preliminary agreement with Atlanta pending completion of a physical exam.




As the day progressed, agent Paul Kinzer stated publicly that Furcal had yet to commit to the Braves, where he spent his first six major league seasons. Atlanta general manager Frank Wren didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment.



"The Braves are definitely in the lead right now,'' Kinzer said. "That's what I told them last night -- 'right now, he's leaning toward you guys.' But I wanted Raffy to sleep on it so we could talk about it again today. I didn't want him to make an emotional decision, because he was so excited about coming [to Atlanta].


"It's not done until we sign off and there's a physical exam, and we haven't gotten that far. Until a letter of agreement is signed, we don't even start the process to get him to Atlanta for a physical.''



Furcal is still in the Dominican Republic, and Kinzer planned to fly to New York later Tuesday for a Wednesday news conference that will introduce another one of his clients, New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, to the New York media.

Since the winter meetings ended in Las Vegas last week, the shortstop's options had been becoming narrower by the day. The Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals dropped out of the running for Furcal, and Kinzer said Tuesday morning that Oakland was no longer in contention. He said the Dodgers and the Braves are the only candidates left in the race.


"I still haven't talked to the Dodgers,'' Kinzer said Tuesday afternoon. "I'll let them know in person if [Furcal] makes a decision.''


That was before sources told ESPN The Magazine that the Dodgers' negotiations with Furcal were gaining momentum later in the day Tuesday. The two sides had talked as recently as 7 p.m. ET.

Kinzer confirmed that the Braves have talked to Furcal about the possibility of shifting from shortstop to second base, a move that could result in the shift of second baseman Kelly Johnson to left field. Yunel Escobar, Atlanta's starting shortstop in 2008, had been mentioned recently as a candidate to be dealt to San Diego in a package trade for pitcher Jake Peavy.

BRM
12-17-2008, 02:13 PM
The Furcal saga continues, per Rotoworld.



Agent Paul Kinzer thinks Rafael Furcal is leaning towards spurning the Braves and re-signing with the Dodgers.

"Right now I think things are swinging back toward the Dodgers, probably," he said. Of course, if we've learned one thing during all of this, it's that Kinzer has no real idea what his client is thinking at any given time.


SI (http://www.fannation.com/si_blogs/hot_stove/posts/33361) is the source.



In the latest twist in the saga of the Rafael Furcal negotiations, Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, told reporters in New York today, "Right now I think things are swinging back toward the Dodgers, probably.''

This will come as news to the Braves, who believed they had a "gentleman's agreement'' with Furcal on Tuesday. But that was before Furcal and his people started speaking again to the Dodgers.

Should Furcal actually go to the Dodgers, the Braves are not likely to take that well.