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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Source: Furcal's decision coming soon

ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Rafael Furcal's agent said the shortstop was likely to decide Wednesday whether to sign with the Atlanta Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers, but all signs appear to be pointing toward the Dodgers.

Olney: Dating game

With each strange twist and turn in the Rafael Furcal negotiations, his potential salary keeps going down, Buster Olney writes. Blog

A source close to the situation told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that Furcal's representatives called the Braves on Wednesday and told the team that the negotiations are now "leaning the Dodgers' way.''

Braves general manager Frank Wren is sufficiently convinced that Furcal won't be coming to Atlanta that he spent Wednesday meeting with his advisers to consider the team's other alternatives, the source said.

If Furcal does, indeed, sign with Los Angeles, it would bring a contentious end to negotiations that grew more confusing by the hour Tuesday.

Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, had said Tuesday that Furcal was close to accepting the Braves' offer.

"They know we didn't have a signed contract, that we didn't have even a verbal agreement. We had, 'Things look very good and Raffy's going to sleep on it,'" Kinzer said after a news conference for another client, Francisco Rodriguez.

Atlanta's offer was for a $30 million, three-year deal with a 2012 option that could become guaranteed. There were reports Tuesday that Furcal had agreed with the Braves, which Kinzer denied.

Braves general manager Wren hasn't commented publicly.

"I'm embarrassed and I'm sure Frank is embarrassed," Kinzer said.

Meanwhile, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reported that according to sources, the Dodgers were in serious negotiations with Furcal's representatives as recently as Wednesday morning.

The 31-year-old Furcal began his major league career with Atlanta, playing for the Braves from 2000 to '05. He spent the past three seasons with the Dodgers.

Furcal hit .357 last season with five homers and 16 RBIs but had back surgery July 3 and was limited to 36 games and 143 at-bats. He returned to the lineup Sept. 24 and played in four games during the final week of the season.

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

But as the day progressed, Kinzer stated publicly that Furcal had yet to commit to the Braves. And by Wednesday, Kinzer changed his tune, saying "right now things have swung back to the Dodgers," according to the New York Post.

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 Associated Press, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and ESPN's Jerry Crasnick contributed to this report.