According to Ken Rosenthal, Rafael Furcal is on his way back to Atlanta. On the radio this morning, I heard the terms stated as three years at $9-10 million per year, with an option for a fourth season. David O’Brien of the AJC agrees with the number of guaranteed years, but I haven’t seen any other reference to the dollars or the option year.
Furcal is a valuable player. He’s a shortstop who can play defense and hit, and he’s only 32 (we think). Over the next three years, I estimate his value to be $49 million ($16.33 per season). If the terms of the deal are correct, this looks to be a good deal. His health is a major factor here. If he’s healthy, he’s worth more; if he’s not he’s worth less.
The deal creates some new questions. The Braves now have three good middle-infielders. DOB suggests this may open the door to a Jake Peavy or Zack Greinke trade. Danny Knobler has a source who claims the Braves plan to move Kelly Johnson to left field. This conflicts with Frank Wren’s recent statements.
Displeasure with Yunel Escobar has been an item on the Braves off-the-record talking points for most of the off-season, so I think the best bet is that Escobar is moved in a deal.
As a fan, I’m a bit disappointed with this move. I understand that there is a distinction between what players do on and off the field. Furcal’s second DUI in the city that I live really soured me. At the time, I wanted the Braves to suspend him for the season. I don’t think he even got the night off. I find it amazing that Barry Bonds can’t find a job because of his association with performance-enhancing drugs, yet you don’t even see Furcal’s drunk driving issues mentioned. It hasn’t even been two years since Josh Hancock was killed in a drunk driving accident.
Don’t individuals deserve a second chance? Yes, he got one: that’s two DUIs. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have trouble rooting for this guy.
UPDATE: According to Mark Bowman, the Braves are planning to move Johnson to the outfield.
Where Furcal would be positioned defensively remains to be seen. But the Braves have no intention to trade either Johnson or Escobar. Instead, they are planning to move Johnson back to left field, a position he played before moving to second base before the start of the 2007 season.
The opportunity to have both Furcal and Johnson in their lineup proved more appealing to the Braves than any of the options they were evaluating in their search to find a power-hitting outfielder.
With Johnson, they feel they have a player capable of hitting 15-20 homers. Matt Diaz could also see some time in left field.
Uh, what about right field?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Apparently, it’s not clear that Furcal is coming to Atlanta. John Heyman sums up the saga.
So to recap, Furcal rejected a four-year deal for about $40 million with the A’s to talk to the Braves about a three year deal for $30 million with a vesting option (and according to the Braves, agree to that deal). And after allegedly wrapping things up with the Braves, he’s believed to be talking to the Dodgers, mostly likely about a two-year deal with an option.
If he takes a two-year deal with the Dodgers, he will be the first player ever to reject a four-year deal to take a three-year deal for a similar annual salary only to reject that for a two-year deal for a similar salary. If this keeps up, the next stop would be a one-year deal.