Happy Ending to Furcal Soap Opera

In the best tradition of your afternoon soap opera, Rafael Furcal was rescued from spending the next four years in Oakland or Atlanta, saved by a last minute effort by GM Ned Colletti who rode in on a white charger and snatched him away to play shortstop and lead off in Dodger Stadium.

Well, that wasn't really how it happened, but there were more curves to follow than Saturday night at the burlesque theater before Furcal opted to turn down more money from both the A's and Braves to reclaim his white jersey with No. 15 on the back and "Dodgers" in script across the front.

John Nadel at the AP reports that Furcal signed three years, $33 million, with a $13 million club option for 2012. Salaries are $7.5 million in 2009, $9.5 million in 2010 and $13 million in 2011, with a $ million option for the 2012 season. The option will vest if he meets certain incentives in 2011, but the incentives haven't been reported.

The A's are believed to have made the high offer for Furcal — four years guaranteed in the $40 million range, according to major-league sources.

Atlanta, according to sources, had offered Furcal a three-year deal worth approximately $30 million, and included a vesting option for a fourth year that would have pushed the potential value of the deal to approximately $40 million.

Furcal completed a three-year, $39-million contract with the Dodgers this year and became a free agent. The Dodgers were reluctant to extend Furcal an offer longer than two years largely because of his medical history. He was bothered by a sprained ankle for the entire 2007 season and hit a career-low .270.

Furcal was headed for an MVP season this year, hitting .366 through May 5, but hurt his back, underwent surgery in July and didn't play again until Sept. 24. He was limited to 36 regular-season games.

Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, told The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that he informed the Braves the that Furcal would probably sign with them, which was why several media outlets prematurely reported that his client had agreed to return to Atlanta.

The Braves believed they had an agreement with Furcal, a team source said. But Kinzer denied that an agreement with the Braves was ever reached.

On Monday night, the Braves were under the distinct impression that they had a deal with Furcal. On Tuesday, the Dodgers re-entered the discussions, and by Wednesday afternoon the Dodgers and Furcal were hammering out the terms of an agreement, sources said. The Braves on Wednesday were informed that Furcal would not accept their deal. "When people deal with you in this manner, they lose credibility," Braves GM Frank Wren said. "You don't forget these things." According to Wren, this is how the situation played out:

v Wren reached agreement on the terms of a contract with Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, on Monday night, pending the approval of Furcal.
vBetween 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET Monday night, Wren spoke with Kinzer three or four times, negotiating the dollar amount, the years and terms of the vesting option, and other contractual details.
v Wren and Kinzer spoke again around midnight Monday night, when Kinzer told Wren that he had not yet heard back from Furcal, but that Furcal was excited and that "we're good."
v On Tuesday morning, Wren got a voicemail from Kinzer telling him to put a term sheet (baseball language for an official contract offer) together.
v Wren went into his office in Atlanta, put the term sheet together and signed it.
v Shortly thereafter, Kinzer began "backpedaling," saying he promised the Dodgers he would talk to them.

Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said on Tuesday night that the Dodgers improved their offer to Furcal, though he declined to say how. Last week, the Dodgers offered Furcal an incentive-laden contract that was guaranteed for two years and included a vesting option for a third. The Braves' offer is guaranteed for three years and includes a vesting option for a fourth.

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