Rafael Furcal Rumors

Rafael Furcal To Retire

Royals infielder Rafael Furcal has decided to retire, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. The 37-year-old had been attempting a comeback bid in the Kansas City organization.

Furcal, who hails from the Dominican Republic, signed with the Braves as an amateur free agent in 1996. He hit the big leagues with Atlanta at age 22, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and ultimately spent six years there and another half dozen with the Dodgers during his prime.

Furcal posted nearly-identical batting lines over each of those stints — .283/.351/.406 in Atlanta, .284/.348/.409 in Los Angeles — though he obviously had some ups and downs over his first twelve years. Possessing surprising pop for his size, Furcal hit over 100 big league long balls and put up four-straight double digit campaigns.

One thing that never seemed to waver much was Furcal’s value on the bases and in the field. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference credit him with better than thirty career wins above replacement, in spite of an approximately league-average bat, based upon those contributions. Furcal ultimately topped three hundred career steals.

Furcal’s later career was marred by injury. After joining the Cardinals in the middle of the 2011 campaign, he put up a solid .262/.323/.367 batting line in 748 plate appearances for St. Louis. But he was forced out of action late in the tam’s 2012 World Series run with a UCL sprain, and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of the following year.

Though the elbow injury did not prevent Furcal from making a run at a return, he made just 37 trips to the plate with the Marlins last year before hamstring issues ended his season. That leg muscle apparently let him down again in his more recent bid with the Royals, as Flanagan tweets that Furcal decided to call it quits after another hamstring problem arose.

All said, the somewhat disappointing end to his career does not mar its excellence. At his best, Furcal was among the most productive players in the league, and he was at least an above-average regular for much of his career. MLBTR extends its best wishes as he turns the page.

Royals Re-Sign Rafael Furcal

The Royals have re-signed infielder Rafael Furcal, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. Furcal was released by Kansas City yesterday.

It appears that the move was designed to get Furcal in camp when he signed initially while preventing the Royals from being obligated to him for a $100K Article XX(B) retention bonus. Furcal does not appear on the list of Article XX(B) free agents I compiled recently, because he signed after that list was posted, but he did in fact qualify for free agency pursuant to that provision and therefore was entitled to its built-in protections.

Royals Release Rafael Furcal

The Royals have released infielder Rafael Furcal, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. Furcal was only recently brought into camp on a minor league deal and had been working through a hamstring injury.

The 37-year-old saw only minimal action last year with Miami and has generally been unable to stay healthy since going down with a UCL tear late in 2012. He had been a consistent and reliable presence in the middle infield to that point.

It is unclear whether Furcal will seek another opportunity. Over his productive career, Furcal has slashed .281/.346/.402 in 7,237 plate appearances with 113 home runs and 314 steals. He has been worth more than thirty wins above replacement in total.

Royals, Rafael Furcal Agree To Minor League Deal

WEDNESDAY: Furcal will receive $1.25MM if he’s in the Majors, plus $250K in incentives, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets.

MONDAY: The Royals and infielder Rafael Furcal have agreed to a minor league contract, per Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). Furcal, a client of the Kinzer Management Group, isn’t with the team in big league camp and is instead rehabbing in minor league camp, McCullough adds.

The 37-year-old Furcal signed a one-year deal with the Marlins last offseason with the expectation that he could play second base for them, but hamstring injuries cost him all but nine games of the 2014 season. Furcal, who missed the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery hit just .171/.216/.229 in 37 PAs with the Fish last season. His last regular action came with the Cardinals in 2012 when he batted .264/.325/.346 with five homers and a dozen steals.

Furcal re-tore his problematic hamstring this offseason and missed the playoffs in the Dominican Winter League, so he’ll need to rehab from that injury before receiving a chance to crack Kansas City’s roster. The signing makes some degree of sense, however, as Omar Infante is battling elbow issues and struggled in 2014 anyhow. Indeed, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes noted back in December (via Twitter) that Furcal could be a fit for Kansas City, especially since he came up through the Braves organization back when Royals GM Dayton Moore was working in Atlanta’s scouting and player development departments.

Quick Hits: Mariners, Holdzkom, Indians, Furcal

The Mariners have unfinished business heading into the new year, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. They’ll need to find a platoon partner for righty Justin Ruggiano in right field, with Seth Smith of the Padres as one possibility. They could also move Brad Miller to the outfield if he loses the shortstop job to Chris Taylor. The M’s could also find a catcher in the Humberto Quintero mold to provide depth at Triple-A Tacoma. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Signing Robinson Cano to a $240MM contract last offseason helped the Mariners press the reset button, Dutton writes. Led by Cano and their pitching staff, the Mariners improved by 16 games in 2014, although they just missed the last AL Wild Card berth.
  • The remainder of the offseason could feature plenty of trades for outfielders, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The Phillies, Reds, Rays, Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Indians and Angels could all have outfielders available, with about the same number of teams looming as potential buyers. Still, it might take time for the market to resolve itself — the key to the outfield market could be the rumors about the Padres trading a package centered around Wil Myers to the Phillies for Cole Hamels, and that might not be resolved until Max Scherzer and James Shields sign.
  • Pirates reliever John Holdzkom has been released “five or six” times, he tells MLB.com’s Tom Singer. Some of those releases were no doubt even more depressing than such transactions usually might be. “I got released without the team even calling me. I looked on the Internet and saw my name next to ‘Transactions’ — five days before I was supposed to report,” says Holdzkom. “Yeah, that was bad.” And that team wasn’t even a Major League organization, but the independent Laredo Lemurs. Holdzkom emerged seemingly from out of nowhere to become a key part of the Pittsburgh bullpen down the stretch in 2014.
  • The Indians‘ signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn haven’t worked out so far, at least not from a baseball perspective. But they were still the right moves, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. The signings prevented a big drop in the Indians’ season-ticket sales and helped them increase revenues while also helping make them more relevant. Bourn’s presence also allowed Michael Brantley to move to left field.
  • Infielder Rafael Furcal has a torn hamstring and will miss Winter League playoffs in the Dominican, Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com tweets. Furcal had hamstring issues in the 2014 regular seasona and only made 37 plate appearances with the Marlins, so this latest injury could affect his attempt to come back next season.

NL Notes: Friedman, Utley, Turner, Gattis, Kang, Furcal

Discussing his wide-ranging moves since taking over as the Dodgers president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman said today that he sees the club as a “highly functional baseball team, instead of a collection of talent.” As MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports, Friedman says the club will remain “open-minded” about dealing away from its stock of outfielders.

  • Looking ahead after the Jimmy Rollins trade, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the team will continue to try to “get younger and more athletic,” as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. In addition to discussing various trade scenarios, the Phils have “had some dialogue with some free agents to try to increase some of our depth pitching-wise,” said Amaro. As for Chase Utley, though, Amaro said he has not had any discussions with Rollins’s long-time double-play partner about a change of scenery. “I haven’t had enough of a discussion with Chase,”  said Amaro. “The only discussions I’ve had with Chase and his agent about any of that is that Chase wants to be in Philadelphia.” While Amaro did not close the door on a deal, neither did he indicate it was particularly likely. He concluded: “[Utley] has no desire to go anywhere. … [H]e wants to honor his contract and that’s how we have to perceive it.”
  • The agent for reportedly soon-to-be Nationals shortstop prospect Trea Turner, Jeff Berry of CAA, expressed his frustration with the fact that Turner will be required to stay in the Padres system for six months until he is technically eligible to be named as the PTBNL in the recent three-team swap, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. Expressing concern with Turner playing in an organization that lacks a direct interest in his future well-being, Berry said that he “will vigorously pursue all available courses of action to remedy this situation,” up to and potentially including the filing of a grievance action.
  • The Braves are still listening on Evan Gattis, but expect to deploy him in left field unless a big offer comes through the door, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
  • The Mets did not place a bid on Jung-ho Kang, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted earlier today. That would, of course, appear to eliminate the Mets as the possible mystery team that has won the posting.
  • The Phillies are taking a look at veteran middle infielder Rafael Furcal as he plays in the Venezuelan winter league, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Furcal signed last year with the Marlins, but was never really able to get healthy. He could potentially fill a hole for the Phils at short.

Free Agent Rumors: Furcal, Grilli, Young, Mets

Free agent infielder Rafael Furcal could be a fit for the Royals on a minor league deal thanks to his connection with GM Dayton Moore, according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (via Twitter).  Here are some of the latest free agency rumors out of San Diego..

  • Jason Grilli has multiple offers from teams in major markets but the Tigers are not one of them, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter).
  • The Rangers have interest in Eric Young Jr., but they may have already been outbid, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is considering bidding in the posting of Jung-ho Kang, but he’s unresolved as to whether he will, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • The Orioles could be a landing spot for former Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • After signing Jon Lester, the Cubs are now pursuing outfielder Jonny Gomes in an apparent effort to get the band back together, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
  • Catcher David Ross tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) that he’s not close on a deal with any club even though he has interest from the Red Sox, Cubs, Braves, D’Backs, and Padres.

NL East Links: Collins, d’Arnaud, Asdrubal, Furcal

Despite reports that Terry Collins is likely to reprise his role as Mets manager in 2015, Joel Sherman of the New York Post gets the sense that a change of skipper is a definite possibility in Queens. Sherman writes that the final six weeks are critical to determining whether or not Collins will return. He explains that the Mets’ upper management believe that plate discipline and power are the key to scoring runs, but the Mets rank 26th in walks in the second half and dead last in the Majors in walks this month. Those trends will have to change, writes Sherman, in order for Collins to remain. As it stands, there is a slight lean toward bringing Collins back, he states, but Sherman feels that Collins needs to demonstrate to his bosses that he is able to consistently emphasize the organizational philosophy.

More from the NL East…

  • The Mets face several questions around the diamond, but one area that previously looked like a question mark has been resolved, MLB.com’s Tim Healy writes. Travis d’Arnaud‘s play since returning from Triple-A has been more than enough to solidify him at the position going forward, and Collins offered high praise for the 25-year-old backstop, stating that over the course of a full season, the numbers will dictate that d’Arnaud “is the real deal.” Collins adds that the Mets have gone from batting d’Arnaud eighth and regularly pinch-hitting for him to making him their everyday five-hole hitter, and they’re comfortable with him in that role.
  • Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera is happy in his new setting, but he tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that his preference in the long run is to play shortstop. Says Cabrera: “…I just have to see after the season and wait. I like to play short. That’s the position I like to play more. I’m just going to see who wants me to play short, who wants me to play second, and figure it out from there.”
  • It’s safe to say that the MarlinsRafael Furcal experiment didn’t work out. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the veteran infielder, signed this offseason to a one-year deal that guaranteed him $3MM, will undergo hamstring surgery and miss the remainder of the season. The 36-year-old appeared in just nine games for the Fish and batted a paltry .171/.216/.229 in 37 plate appearances.

Rays Claim Angel Sanchez From Marlins

The Rays have claimed right-hander Angel Sanchez off waivers from the Marlins, tweets Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Marlins have announced that the move will clear a 40-man roster spot for Rafael Furcal to be activated from the DL and reinstated to the big league roster. Sanchez will head to Double-A Montgomery for the Rays.

Sanchez, not to be confused with the infielder of the same name who inked a minor league deal with the Dodgers earlier today, is a 24-year-old right-hander out of the Dominican Republic. He is one of three pitchers that the Marlins acquired from the Dodgers in exchange for Ricky Nolasco and cash last season (the roughly $6MM of salary relief was the bigger concern for Miami in that transaction). In 12 starts at Double-A Jacksonville this season, Sanchez posted a 6.88 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 52 1/3 innings.

Furcal, who signed a one-year Major League deal with the Fish this offseason, will bat leadoff in tonight’s game for the Marlins — his first big league action since 2012 with the Cardinals. He batted .264/.325/.346 in 531 plate appearances for St. Louis that season. A three-time All-Star and former NL Rookie of the Year (2000), Furcal is a career .281/.346/.403 hitter in parts of 13 Major League seasons with the Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals.

Marlins To Sign Rafael Furcal

FRIDAY, 4:20pm: The Marlins confirmed the deal via press release.

THURSDAY, 8:30pm: The Marlins will sign shortstop Rafael Furcal to a one-year deal, tweets FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes that the deal is for $3MM plus incentives (via Twitter).

USATSI_6373466 Rosenthal reports that Furcal will be the Marlins' everyday second baseman. Furcal has not played more than four games in a season at second since 2000, having played at shortstop almost exclusively since then, although many players have successfully transitioned from shortstop to second base. Donovan Solano and Derek Dietrich were the Marlins' primary second basemen in 2013, and Adeiny Hechavarria is currently their starter at shortstop.

Furcal, 36, hit .264/.325/.346 with the Cardinals in 2012 and has a .281/.346/.403 line for his career. Furcal himself indicated last week that the Marlins were one of several teams interested in him, along with the Mets, Red Sox, Pirates, Nationals and Rockies. The Mets reportedly lost interest in Furcal, who missed the entire 2013 after having Tommy John surgery, amidst concerns about his health.

Furcal is the second significant free-agent signing for the Marlins this winter, following catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who received a three-year, $21MM deal. Furcal lives in southern Florida, so the signing will keep him close to home.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.