The Dodgers pulled off a major coup yesterday, swooping in at the last minute to snatch Rafael Furcal out of the hands of the Cubs and/or Braves. Was shortstop a priority going into the offseason? Probably not, what with outfield issues, no manager (I’m available!), and a few other things. But outside of Paul Konerko, Furcal was one of the top offensive players available on the market this winter. And leadoff is definitely an area where the Dodgers DID need some help, so snagging one of the best leadoff men in baseball was great.
The contract, I think, was great. Furcal got his big annual dollars, but the length of the contract is beautiful for both sides: three years, which means that Furcal will be 31 when it ends. (For those of you who missed the memo, Furcal was actually 21 or 22 during his 19-year-old rookie season.) So the Dodgers aren’t locked in for a long-term contract, which is probably a good things considering how rich their system is at lots of different positions. And Furcal will undoubtedly still be in his prime when he hits the market again, and he can probably score a four-year deal at that point in time.
I am very happy about this signing.
Now, there is a rumor going around that the Dodgers are in talks with the A’s to trade Barry Zito for Milton Bradley. If they could do that deal straight-up, I’d be all for it. I mean, I wish that the Dodgers could find a way to keep Bradley, because I have no doubt that he is going to be a great player for a long time. And I think that overall, his attitude problems have been blown out of proportion. But if the Dodgers have reached a point where they are determined that getting rid of him is what’s best for the team, trading him SURE is a better option than flat-out non-tendering (releasing) him. And Barry Zito is a great pitcher, and he would probably only get better pitching in Dodger Stadium (which is fairly pitcher-friendly) and in the National League. And he is still young (he won’t turn 28 until a month into next season), which means he could realistically be a force for another six or eight years. Barry Zito for Milton Bradley is something I heartily endorse.
Where it gets sticky is when I read that the Dodgers would have to give up two top prospects in addition to Bradley. Knowing Billy Beane, one of those prospects would be top pitching prospect Chad Billingsley. The only way this would be acceptable is if the Dodgers had at least a three-year extension worked out with Zito, guaranteeing that he would be with them for at least four years. Zito is a SoCal boy, I think, so maybe they could work that out. But I think it would be terrible for the Dodgers to give up their top pitching prospect for one year of Barry Zito.