If you want to skip my blathering, please at least vote in the poll at the bottom. 77% of 1,000 ANers are pleased with the Holliday trade. How many of you would be ok with acquiring Furcal at a steep price?
All right, I'm in. Hook, line, and sinker/slider. I hope that the A's sign Furcal to a contract in the neighborhood of four years, $60 million, without a no-trade clause.
"Zounds! Egads!" you say? (Even though no one under the age of 80 has used those two words in the last 50 years.) "It's too much money, and he's got a balky back!"
I'll agree with you, on both counts. And yet I still could rationalize that 15MM a year investment, even for four years. Here's seven quick-hitting reasons why for your Friday afternoon reading:
1.) The team is undeniably re-entering a contention phase, and Furcal accelerates that plan. He removes the biggest liability amongst the team's starting nine (Crosby) and puts much better offense and better defense in that spot.
2.) Even as Furcal declines between age 31 and 35, it's highly unlikely that anyone in the A's farm system could come close to outperforming him over the next four years. Declining Furcal is very likely still much better than Gregorio Petit or Cliff Pennington. And those 2-3 wins might be the difference between making the playoffs during each of the next four seasons.
3.) There won't be a better shortstop on the free agent market for a while. Amazingly, Crosby and Khalil Greene are actually the headliners of next year's free agent class. If the Brewers can lock up J.J. Hardy long-term in the next two years, it's possible that Furcal - warts and all - will end up being the best shortstop on the FA market over the course of the next three offseasons, until (if) Rollins hits free agency. There's no way the A's want to wait that long to find an adequate solution.
4.) Signing Furcal, even it means overpaying, makes the trade market for Crosby slightly better, by removing the most attractive alternative for every team with shortstop needs. If the A's absorb $4-5 million of the $5.5 million owed Crosby next year, I have no doubt that they can acquire at least a Jerry Blevins-quality player (6 years of below-market quality relief).
5.) Furcal would cost the A's nothing in terms of free-agent compensation, and therefore would cost nothing in the team's rebuilding efforts. His injury-riddled '08 depressed his Elias numbers and he didn't even achieve Type B status. I doubt the A's want to sign anyone this offseason that would cost them their second-rounder. This is part of why I wouldn't advocate the Edgar Renteria fallback option - Renteria's a Type A, and he's likely to be offered arbitration, which would cost the A's their second-round pick (since their first rounder is protected).
6.) The team is in wonderful position financially to absorb a contract of this size and length. The team has tons of cost-controlled, valuable assets and virtually zero bad contracts. Absorbing most of Crosby's deal AND signing Furcal for $15MM per would still keep the team's payroll in the $65 million range for '09.
7.) By not offering him a no-trade clause, or at most an 8-to-10 team partial no-trade clause, the team would guarantee that, at worst, Furcal could simply yield a future asset via trade, with the A's absorbing some cash. Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall both yielded good value, even in terrible declines. Surely, Rafael Furcal would yield even more. Even if he struggled for the next 2 years and wanted out, some team would want him, and would have a great need, due to the aforementioned lack of shortstops on the next three FA markets. And again, that's the worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario, of course, is that he stays healthy and does well for the A's over the next four years, making a positive difference of 2-3 wins each year during some contending seasons.
You may hate the idea of offering him 60 million. I'm just trying to be realistic. He wouldn't accept coming to Oakland (which surely isn't his top choice), or a partial no-trade clause, for anything less than an offer that's 10% (15%?) better than any other offer he receives.
So, in light of the Holliday acquistion, and Beane's public comments that he plans to keep Holliday through the '09 season, would you sign Furcal to a four year, 60MM contract without a no-trade clause?