12/19/2008 9:06 PM ET
Dodgers sign shortstop Rafael Furcal to three-year contract
LOS ANGELES -- The National League West Division Champion Los Angeles Dodgers today signed shortstop Rafael Furcal to a three-year contract with a vesting option for the 2012 season. General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement.
"Raffy has proven to be a very important player for us over the last three seasons," said Colletti. "He sets a great example with his enthusiasm and passion for the game and his teammates."
"You can't overestimate Raffy's value to the team," said Dodger Manager Joe Torre. "He brings so much more to the table than just his ability to play the game. The players feed off his energy and I think he's an integral piece of the puzzle. I look forward to having that leadership in a Dodger uniform for the next several years."
Furcal in 2008 was among several offensive leaders prior to going on the disabled list on May 6 with an injured lower back. Furcal led the Majors with 49 hits and 34 runs scored at the time he went on the DL. He also ranked second in the Majors at that time with a .366 average and third with a .448 on-base percentage. The switch-hitter returned to the club during the final week of the regular season, and went on to start at shortstop in each of the Dodgers' eight post-season games. The 31-year-old had undergone back surgery on July 3, a microdiscectomy performed by Dr. Robert Watkins at Marina Del Rey Hospital.
Furcal is a career .286 hitter with 259 stolen bases and 788 runs scored in 1,150 games over nine Major League seasons with Atlanta (2000-05) and the Dodgers (2006-08). Since the start of the 2000 season, Furcal ranks fourth among big league shortstops in runs scored, third in walks (468), and seventh in on-base percentage (.352). He also ranks sixth among shortstops in that span with 1,328 hits and 227 doubles. His 259 stolen bases since the start of the 2000 campaign rank seventh among all players.
Since signing with the Dodgers as a free agent prior to the 2006 season, Furcal is hitting .293 (404-for-1378) with 67 doubles, 148 walks, 70 steals, 234 runs scored, and a .362 on-base percentage in 333 games. Despite missing 125 games in 2008, Furcal ranks second on the club in runs scored since the start of the 2006 season behind only Russell Martin (239). He also ranks third on the team in that span with 404 hits behind Martin (430) and Andre Ethier (409). He ranks fourth among Dodgers in average and on-base percentage beginning in 2006 as well.
Furcal in 2006 was voted by his teammates and coaches as the winner of the inaugural Roy Campanella Award, given to the most inspirational Dodger. Furcal collected a career-high 196 hits that season to rank tied for fifth in the National League. He also established career highs in 2006 with a .300 average and 63 RBI, while tying his career high with 15 home runs.
The Dominican Republic native has played post-season baseball in seven of his nine Major League campaigns, including 2006 and 2008 with the Dodgers. Furcal was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2000 and an NL All-Star in 2003. He ranked in the Top-10 in steals in five of his first six full seasons (2000, 2003-06), and stole 226 bases in all from 2000-06 to rank fourth in that time behind Juan Pierre (325), Ichiro Suzuki (235), and Carl Crawford (226).
Furcal has hit 23 career first-inning leadoff home runs. He has 11 such home runs as a Dodger to rank second in franchise history behind Davey Lopes, who clubbed 28 in nine seasons from 1973-81.
Furcal signed with the Dodgers as a free agent on December 19, 2005. He was originally signed by Atlanta as a non-drafted free agent in November 1996.