Furcal 'close' to being a Brave

ATLANTA --- Shortstop Rafael Furcal is close to accepting a $30 million, three-year offer to return to the Atlanta Braves.


ESPN.com, however, was reporting that the Los Angeles Dodgers had re-entered negotiations for Furcal.

The 31-year-old began his career with Atlanta, playing for the Braves from 2000-05. He spent the past three seasons with the Dodgers.

"He liked the idea of coming back to Atlanta, but there hasn't been any formal agreement," Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, said Tuesday. "Everything is preliminary. The whole thing with coming back home intrigued him. He still has a house here in Atlanta."

His deal would contain an option for 2012 that could become guaranteed.

Furcal hit .357 last season with five homers and 16 RBI but had back surgery July 3 and was limited to 36 games and 143 at-bats. He returned to the lineup Sept. 24 and played in the final week of the season.

"It's pretty close," Kinzer said. "The A's are out. My last thing to him was sleep on it."

Furcal was 16 and living in his native Dominican Republic when the Braves signed him on Nov. 9, 1996. He was a fixture at the top of the lineup from 2000-05, winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2000 and making 2003 the All-Star team.

After hitting .300 with 15 homers, 63 RBI and 37 stolen bases in his first year with the Dodgers, Furcal had ankle and back injuries the past two seasons.

Braves general manager Frank Wren did not return telephone and e-mail messages.



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