Does Furcal's no to A's mean maybe for Dodgers?
Don't close the door on Rafael Furcal just yet.
Two of the veteran shortstop's most enamored suitors have apparently decided to go in other directions, meaning the sparkplug leadoff hitter could find himself talking again to the Dodgers.
Furcal has reportedly rejected the Oakland Athletics' take-it-or-leave-it offer, which Foxsports.com said was for four years and between $35 million and $40 million. Last week the San Francisco Giants, who also had interest in Furcal, signed Edgar Renteria to play shortstop.
Apparently concerns over Furcal's physical soundness -- he missed parts of the last two seasons because of injuries -- and the free agent's request for a contract covering at least three years for approximately $10 million a season have scared off teams. The Blue Jays and Cardinals, who also showed some interest earlier this fall, also have gone different ways, although Furcal still remains a good fit for the Chicago Cubs, who need a leadoff hitter. And a longshot could have his former team, the Atlanta Braves, showing interest.
Furcal was an All-Star and rookie of the year with the Braves, who are rumored to be shopping talented Cuban Yunel Escobar. But Furcal probably would have to lower his demands to join the budget-conscious Braves.
Where that leaves the Dodgers is anyone's guess. Although the Dodgers and Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, apparently haven't had serious conversations this off-season, that might not matter since Kinzer said last week he didn't expect Furcal to sign a contract before the winter meetings. The four-day meetings begin Monday in Las Vegas, giving Kinzer and the Dodgers plenty of time to talk.
A .286 lifetime hitter, the 31-year-old Furcal hit .357 last season but appeared in a career-low 36 games for the Dodgers in the final season of a three-year, $39-million contract.
-- Kevin Baxter
Photo: Do the Dodgers want to bid again for the services of free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, left, who played only 36 games for Manager Joe Torre (6) last season because of injury? Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times