LOS ANGELES -- According to sources close to the negotiations, new Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti has made his first offseason acquisition, reaching agreement with free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal on Saturday night.
A deal of three years and $39.5 million jumped the Dodgers past Furcal's original team, the Atlanta Braves, and the Chicago Cubs, the only other finalist. The Cubs were believed to have offered five years and $50 million, the Braves something less than that.
The addition of Furcal to the roster will accomplish several of Colletti's offseason goals.
Foremost, the 28-year-old Dominican provides a proven leadoff hitter. He will be an immediate replacement for All-Star shortstop Cesar Izturis, who is expected to be sidelined until the All-Star break while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction, and, with Jeff Kent, will provide a second veteran infielder while the Dodgers consider turning over at least one of the corner positions to some combination of top prospects James Loney, Joel Guzman and Andy LaRoche, among others.
When Izturis returns, he likely would slide over to second base, while Kent could move to first.
The Dodgers' resolve to land Furcal heightened when free agent outfielder Brian Giles, on the verge of signing with the Dodgers, instead accepted a sweetened bid by the San Diego Padres to retain him earlier in the week.
The switch-hitting Furcal batted .284 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIs for the Braves in 2005, but the numbers that jump out are 46 stolen bases, 100 runs scored and 154 games played. The entire Dodgers team stole only 58 bases last year, next to last in the National League. No Dodgers leadoff hitter has scored 100 runs in a season since Brett Butler in 1991. And no Dodgers player suited up for as many as 154 games in 2005.
Furcal, who made $5.6 million in 2005, was the Rookie of the Year in 2000 (jumping from Class A) and an All-Star in 2003. His only serious injury was a dislocated shoulder that shelved him for the second half of the 2001 season.
His .338 batting average after July 7 last season was second highest in the league. Interestingly, Furcal was signed by Rene Francisco, who recently resigned as Dodgers international scouting director to re-join the Braves as scouting director.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.