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.