Rafael Furcal: Incoming SS for the Cubs?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer INovember 17, 2008

Former Braves and Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal's agent Paul Kinzer has been quoted in various media outlets as saying his client has received a three-year, $39 million contract offer from an anonymous team.

Is Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry begging for Furcal's services...again?

There's a relatively short list of teams that are looking for a shortstop this winter, and even fewer that are rumored to have this type of money to throw around.

I'm not saying the Cubs necessarily need a shortstop right now; Ryan Theriot was one of very few Cubs that overachieved at the plate last year. But who else is shopping for a shortstop? And how could the potential of Furcal coming to Chicago affect the Cubs?

Let's examine a couple scenarios.

Theriot is still making in the neighborhood of $400,000 a season right now, and he hit over .300 in 2008. His unique inside-out swing is perfect for the top of any batting order, and would put him on anyone's radar if Furcal were indeed coming to Chicago.

The Cubs also have Ronny Cedeno currently on their payroll. He has been a rumored piece of a number of trade possibilities, and (for some reason) carries a fairly decent amount of trade value. He has played an above average second base at the major league level, but hasn't been able to crack the Cubs everyday lineup because of Theriot and Mark DeRosa.

So what could the Cubs do with these two pieces if Furcal came to Chicago?

Does the name "Brandon Fahey" ring a bell? I doubt it...unless you're a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. Fahey, who will turn 28 in January, is projected to be the Orioles' starting shortstop on Opening Day 2009—which is great if you're related to Fahey.

He hit .228 in 58 games last year, including 25 strikeouts in 106 at-bats. Comparatively, Theriot struck out 58 times last year in over 500 at-bats.

So do you think an enormous upgrade at shortstop would be enticing to the Orioles?

Another team that has had some shortstop issues recently is the Toronto Blue Jays. They took a shot on the diminutive David Eckstein last year, who was so bad they traded him to Arizona for a fringe pitcher. 

With a lineup that includes Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, Theriot could be a fantastic table setting batter. Marco Scutaro and John MacDonald are also on Toronto's roster, but could (much like Theriot and Cedeno) become trade bait, especially because both are in a walk year in 2009.

So there are two teams that could be perfect partners to whom the Cubs could move one, or both, of their young shortstops.

What would the Cubs ask for in return?

From Baltimore...Brian Roberts. If you haven't heard of Fahey, we'll excuse it. If you haven't heard a Robert-to-Chicago rumor, you've been living in a well for 15 months.

Last year, the rumor was that the Cubs wouldn't part ways with a package including Felix Pie, Rich Hill, and/or Jose Ceda. Ceda has since been traded, while Hill and Pie needed a ticket to see a game at Wrigley Field last year. Maybe Hendry won't cling to his prospects as hard this year.

From Toronto, I'll throw an idea out there that might be a little on the bold side. Could Theriot and a package of other prospects get a front of the rotation starter that, unlike Jake Peavy, is a free agent in 12 months?

Roy Halladay has one year left on his current contract, and might be available for the right price. JP Ricciardi, Jays General Manager, has been known to make moves that are bold—after all, he's come up through the Billy Beane school of prospect churning for stars in walk seasons.

In Toronto, A.J. Burnett is gone to free agency. Other than Burnett and Halladay, there wasn't a Blue Jay starter that won more than 13 games. I could see the Blue Jays, perpetually rebuilding because of both their market and the grooming of their GM, accepting a package including Theriot, Kevin Hart, Sean Marshall, Chad Gaudin, and even perhaps Jason Marquis, who is also in a walk year.

In any event, the thought of Furcal coming to Chicago intrigues me for no other reason than speculating about what Hendry would do with Theriot and Cedeno.