Originally created 12/02/05

Braves hope to retain Furcal



ATLANTA - It's too early for Braves manager Bobby Cox to worry about coming up with another name to top his 2006 lineup.

The Braves haven't lost shortstop and leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal yet, according to the free agent's representative.

Braves general manager John Schuerholz has conceded that free agent reliever Kyle Farnsworth will leave Atlanta to sign with the New York Yankees, but the team has continued to negotiate almost daily with Furcal.

Three teams are still in the running for Furcal, his agent Paul Kinzer said.

The Braves, Cubs and Dodgers are all still involved in negotiations for Furcal, who hit .284 and stole a career-high 46 bases last season for Atlanta.

"There's nothing earth-shattering yet," said Kinzer, who is based in Atlanta. "We're still talking to all three teams."

Ideally, Kinzer said, one of the three will emerge in the next couple of days, before baseball's winter meetings, which begin Monday in Dallas.

"We don't have a date set in stone," he said, "but that's the target."

The Cubs, who have put a five-year deal on the table, are thought to be the front- runners for Furcal. Los Angeles entered as a player earlier this week after its new GM, Ned Colletti, expressed interest. Furcal has been a Brave since the club signed him in 1996.

Atlanta has already started to form contingency plans in case Furcal's demands grow too steep.

The Braves have talked with Tampa Bay about a trade for Julio Lugo. They've also expressed interest in trading for Kansas City's Angel Berroa.

Chicago general manager Jim Hendry met with Kinzer and Furcal in Atlanta on Sunday, and Kinzer met again with Braves officials Wednesday.

"We're going to talk more," Kinzer said Thursday of the negotiations with the Braves.

Asked to characterize the Braves' chances to keep Furcal, Kinzer said, "I would say there's reasonable hope."