Tuesday, December 16, 2008 Updated: December 17, 1:21 PM ET
Sources: Furcal eyes Braves, Dodgers
ESPN.com news services
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.
Olney: Dating game
With each strange twist and turn in the Rafael Furcal negotiations, his potential salary keeps going down, Buster Olney writes. Blog
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.
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.
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.''
On Wednesday, Kinzer changed his tune. Also the agent for new Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, Kinzer said of Furcal's future, "right now things have swung back to the Dodgers," according to the New York Post.
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.
Furcal spent the past three seasons with the Dodgers, but played in only 36 games last season due to back issues.
A career .286 hitter, Furcal, 31, has missed 150 games over the past two seasons but makes an impact when he does play. He batted .357, with a .439 on-base percentage, in 36 games for the Dodgers last season, after hitting .270 with 25 steals in 2007.
Information from ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney was used in this report.