The Los Angeles Dodgers and Rafael Furcal are reunited once again with another three year deal, worth slightly less than his previous contract.
The deal is being reported at three years, $31 million with a player option/team buyout for a fourth year pending a physical. Just recently, the Dodgers had stiff competition for Rafael Furcal's services. He was seriously being courted by the Oakland A's, the San Francisco Giants and most recently, the Atlanta Braves.
Furcal is coming off an injury plagued three seasons with the Dodgers, where he was healthy for one of those three seasons.
Last year, Furcal played 36 games but started all eight games when the Dodgers went to the playoffs. With this new signing, Furcal becomes the focal point of the Dodger offense. He has speed, great contact and he has power.
Like fellow teammate Juan Pierre, Furcal can disrupt a pitcher's concentration as he is always a threat to steal. Furcal also shores up the left side of the infield. Casey Blake plays great defense at third base and Furcal has great range at shortstop. Furcal also has a cannon for an arm, making him valuable during relay throws.
Was this a good deal for the Dodgers? I wouldn't call it a good deal. I would call this a GREAT deal for these reasons.
First, the Dodgers signed the best shortstop available in the free agent market. There were rumors that the Dodgers were trying to trade for Jack Wilson and were ready to sign Orlando Cabrera if Furcal did not resign.
Wilson or Cabrera could not match the same type of role that Furcal plays in the Dodger offense.
Second, the deal is not that long and is back-loaded. Three years for a shortstop is a great deal. The player knows he will most likely not get traded. With Furcal's contract back loaded, the Dodgers can afford to spend more money right now. With Schmidt and Jones coming off the books after next year, the money deferred can help pay for Furcal's contract.
If Furcal can stay healthy, he will be a threat at the top of the Dodgers lineup. He is their true lead off hitter that can set the tables for the hitters behind him. If Manny resigns with the Dodgers, the lineup will almost be identical to the lineup in the playoffs. If Furcal stays healthy, the Dodgers have a better chance to go farther in the playoffs.
This new deal with the Dodgers shows other free agents that the Dodgers mean business. It has been a quiet off-season for the Dodgers because they have only signed Casey Blake and Mark Loretta. The Dodgers now have their infield intact and can turn their focus on pitching and bringing back Manny.
A month ago, Jamie McCourt's comments asked Dodgers fans to decide what they wanted free agents or 50 youth baseball fields. The Dodgers have now shown that they are committed to winning. The Dodgers have spent money this offseason and they will continue to do so in order to make the Dodgers more competitive.
2009 will be an awesome year.