Indicators predicting a big year for Rafael Furcal included his impending free agency, a return to health, and a strong Spring Training performance. After 28 games, he sits at .371/.459/.586 (tops among shortstops).
When Furcal first reached free agency after the 2005 season, he was only 28 and was coming off a .284/.348/.429 season. He chose to maximize his yearly salary rather than take a four or five-year deal. The three-year, $39MM contract Furcal signed with the Dodgers allows him to re-enter free agency at age 31.
Furcal is in line for a monster contract even if he can’t maintain his MVP performance. Jimmy Rollins is signed at a well below-market price, so he’s a poor comparable. The high-end comp is Derek Jeter, who gave up nine free agent years for a bit less than $20MM per season. Furcal’s agent, Paul Kinzer, could reasonably ask for $75MM over five years.
Furcal and the Dodgers are open to a midseason extension, according to Ken Rosenthal. That’d make Chin-Lung Hu a valuable trade chip. Back in ’05, the Cubs and Braves competed with the Dodgers for Furcal. The White Sox, Blue Jays, Nationals, and Cardinals could enter the mix next winter if Furcal reaches free agency.