The A's will need to go in another direction.
Oakland was just the first of three teams that Rafael Furcal reportedly was about to sign with -- the A's were rumored on Dec. 15, the Braves on Dec. 16 and finally Furcal agreed to a deal with his previous team, the Dodgers, on Dec. 17.
The Oakland A's did not make any comments about the proceedings, unlike Atlanta's Frank Wren, who blasted Furcal's representatives for backing out of a deal that appeared to be completed. But there were two reports that Furcal was just about to accept a four-year deal with Oakland before the Braves' offer came to the fore.
An agent not involved with any of the talks told the San Francisco Chronicle that he thought the A's "were used." The Chronicle reported that the A's initially offered Furcal a four-year contract worth $35 million, then upped that to $38 million the week after the winter meetings. The years and the guaranteed money were both more than the Braves and Dodgers offered.
Whatever the case, Oakland was not able to upgrade at shortstop, and indications are that the team does not have significant interest in free agent Orlando Cabrera unless Cabrera can be had at a bargain rate, certainly below the offer made to Furcal. Cabrera is a Type A free agent, and the A's do not like the idea of losing a second-round pick for signing him.
That leaves incumbent Bobby Crosby, who will be a free agent after the season, as the A's shortstop unless Oakland can swing a deal for a younger shortstop who would be under team control for three years or so.
The A's do not have much in the way of shortstop prospects at the upper levels of their system, or at third base, and if and when the team opts to move major offseason acquisition Matt Holliday, which is expected to happen if the A's are out of the race in July, those will be the positions at which Oakland looks to improve.
A's News and Notes
--SS Bobby Crosby is now the favorite to be starting on Opening Day for Oakland. The A's had been considered likely to trade Crosby had they been successful in their pursuit of Rafael Furcal, but the free agent shortstop is returning to Los Angeles. Crosby, much injured and unproductive the past several years, will be a free agent after next season.
--C Rob Bowen, who was arbitration-eligible, signed a one-year deal, keeping the A's catching unit stable. Bowen, 27, didn't get much playing time behind Kurt Suzuki, making 37 starts and batting .176. His catcher's ERA was 4.87.
--RHP Justin Duchscherer, the most senior member of Oakland's rotation, was offered arbitration. The two-time All-Star is coming off his second hip surgery in two seasons but is expected to be ready or close to ready to go at the start of the season. Duchscherer is the only member of the projected 25-man roster with more than 35 career big-league starts.
--DH Jack Cust was offered arbitration, but it's unclear exactly what role he'll fill in the coming season. The A's are looking to add another bat to the lineup, with DH/1B Jason Giambi frequently speculated to be a target. Were the A's to pick up a DH type, Cust is likely to see even more time in the outfield than he did last season, when he played 83 games in the outfield.