Source: Furcal nearing deal with Braves

Updated: December 16, 2008, 9:35 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal moved closer to a deal with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, but a source familiar with the situation told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that a report that the two sides have reached agreement pending a physical exam is premature.

"He wants to come [to Atlanta] and the interest is mutual,'' the source said, "but it's not there yet.''
Furcal

Furcal

The source added that the Braves are "confident" they will reach a deal with Furcal, who won a rookie of the year award with the Braves in 2000 and spent his first six major league seasons in Atlanta.

Foxsports.com, citing a major league source, had reported that a contract agreement is expected to be announced on Tuesday, pending Furcal passing a physical, according to the report. The deal is believed to be for three years with a vesting option for a fourth season.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reported Monday that the Oakland Athletics had offered Furcal a four-year, $40 million deal. But Furcal is said to prefer returning to one of the two teams he has played for -- the Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"[The Braves] are in deep. He's seriously considering it," Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, said Monday, according to FoxSports.com.

Signing Furcal could allow the Braves to move shortstop Yunel Escobar to second base or market him in a trade. Escobar had been part of discussions in a potential trade for San Diego Padres starter Jake Peavy.

Furcal spent the last three seasons with the Dodgers, but played in only 36 games last season due to back issues.

A career .286 hitter, Furcal, 31, has missed 150 games over the past two seasons but makes an impact when he does play. He batted .357, with a .439 on-base percentage, in 36 games for the Dodgers last season, after hitting .270 with 25 steals in 2007.

Jerry Crasnick covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney contributed to this report.

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