Marlins sign Rafael Furcal, what are they up to?

Marlins sign Rafael Furcal, what are they up to?
December 5, 2013, 9:45 pm
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Why Doug Fister?

So it turns out the Marlins are up to something.

Two days after signing catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia - 17th in HardballTalk's 2013 free agency rankings - to a three-year deal, Miami has agreed to a one-year contract with Rafael Furcal. That's three-time All-Star Rafael Furcal.

Ken Rosenthal of first reported the news and said Furcal will play second base for the Marlins in 2014. The 36-year-old missed this past season due to Tommy John surgery, so perhaps moving closer to first from shortstop will be good for him. Even though he's long been noted for his arm strength, it won't be a major deal if he's lost some of it.

Furcal also wasn't exactly the best defensive shortstop in 2012 when he last played. His fielding percentage and errors stacked up well against other shortstops, but his -9.5 ultimate zone rating was among the worst. Maybe he'll be better at second.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Furcal last played with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 and hit .264 with 69 runs and 12 stolen bases through 121 games. He joined the Cards after six years with the Dodgers and another six seasons with the Braves.

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Furcal isn't a significant free agent by any stretch, he isn't on the level Saltalamacchia is as an acquisition. Still, Furcal represents a high upside with very little risk. As long as Furcal is healthy, he should be an upgrade for the Fish. Marlins second basemen hit just .235 in 2013 with a .292 on-base percentage. Furcal's career numbers in those categories are .281 and .346, respectively.

In breaking down the Saltalamacchia deal on Wednesday, I speculated the Marlins could actually be serious about 2014. Maybe they look at the next three years with Giancarlo Stanton - before he is expected to leave via free agency - as a window to compete. Furcal doesn't necessarily cement that idea, but it's potentially another step in the right direction for the Marlins. The former Rookie of the Year could have a few seasons left in the tank and a one-year deal could be his way to prove it.