Rafael Furcal and What Off-Season Interest Means

Earlier this week we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates had shown interest in shortstop Rafael Furcal. On Saturday, we heard the same reports from Furcal himself, who told Enrique Rojas of ESPN that “many teams have shown interest”, and named the Pirates as one of those teams. So far, both reports have come from the Furcal camp, with the first report coming from his agent.

This seems like a good time to point out the many possibilities that come from the word “interest”. It’s a very vague term that gets thrown around during the off-season, when teams are checking on pretty much every single player. The truth is that most teams have “shown interest” in a lot of players they aren’t going to sign. That’s because “interest” could just mean checking on his price, seeing if the player is healthy, or considering him as a Plan B, Plan C, or for a role that would be less than what he’d get from other teams.

The best way to illustrate “interest” is to look at Furcal from the Mets’ perspective. Furcal specifically mentioned that the Mets were interested in him. However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the more the Mets researched Furcal, “the greater their worry about his physical viability became”. He said that one executive said Furcal is no longer an option for the Mets. Sherman also says that officials who don’t work for the Mets have had the same physical concerns.

The Mets obviously “showed interest”, because they were looking at Furcal. In this case, it seems that they were just looking to see if he was healthy, and when they didn’t like what they saw, they moved on.

I don’t know if the Pirates are in the same situation as the Mets, where they were just looking at him to get a feel for his health. What I do know is that “interest” usually comes with the assumption that a team is heavily pursuing a player, when in fact it could just mean that they were doing due diligence. When it comes to Furcal, or any other player who receives interest from any team, I don’t think we can take the word “interest” and start penciling in that player in the starting lineup. Finding out that a team has shown interest in a player tells us who the team is looking at. The more important information is finding out how the team feels about the player after their initial interest.

  • He didn’t play last year. When healthy and that has been an issue he has been a great offensive player and an adequate defensive player. As for Barmes he is walking proof that UZR is an overrated stat. I am convinced he gets a high rating because he jumps in the air on ever ball hit to him. I have never seen a SS that makes every play look difficult like he does and he is by far the worst offensive SS in the league.

  • you guys want to know what Furcal is? he’s a name. that’s it. he’s not the man in the Dodger uniform anymore. he’s worn out.

  • I like Furcal when healthy he has always been good. So if he is healthy (and I am sure the Bucs would check on that) I would love to have him. He would be a huge upgrade over Barmes.

    • He would be a huge upgrade? He’s not better defensively…and he hasn’t put up good offensive numbers in a couple years…defensively the last two or three years he’s been a negative uzr player…a massive downgrade over the defense of Barmes.

  • If aj doesn’t come back anybody thin bringing Bronson arroyo back might make sense?

  • Pass. Would rather welcome Barmes back, Mercer starting SS v LHP and starting 2B v many LHP.
    So, much like a Barmes/Walker platoon, with a vastly improved infield D when facing a LHP. Would like to add a glove 1st RH 3B to rest Pedro v some LHP.

  • Young guys can respond to missing a season. We might as well bring Inge back if we sign this guy.

  • If Furcal would play 120 games at 2B, 3B and SS, Mercer would play 120 games at 2B, 3B and SS and Walker and Pedro would play 140 games at 2B and 3B respectively this infield would be so much better offensively.