Jays meet with Furcal's agent
Toronto would need to clear salary off roster to make deal
LAS VEGAS -- It might be a long shot, but the Blue Jays are at least entertaining the idea of trying to sign free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal. Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi confirmed that he met with Furcal's representatives here at the Winter Meetings.
"We had a cordial meeting," Ricciardi told MLB.com on Tuesday. "We kind of just revisited some things, but it was more of an information-type thing."
Furcal recently rejected a four-year deal from the A's that was believed to be worth between $35-40 million and is also being pursued by the Dodgers. A source with knowledge of the situation indicated that it's unlikely that Toronto would be able to offer Furcal a four-year pact, which is what he's seeking.
Another stumbling block is Toronto's financial situation. In order to sign a high-profile free agent such as Furcal, the Blue Jays would have to free up some payroll. That means that a subsequent move would be needed in order to even consider adding the shortstop.
"Anybody we try to bring in now, we're going to really have to do some shuffling," Ricciardi said. "That's definitely the agenda right now. We'd have to see what we could move around. We'd have to try to be as creative as possible."
One way Toronto could shed some salary is by moving first baseman Lyle Overbay, who is owed $14 million over the next two years. The Jays could also try to deal some of their relievers, including right-hander Jason Frasor, who is arbitration-eligible and due for a raise after making $1.125 million this past season.
Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, told FOXSports.com that the competition for Furcal's services has been narrowed to four clubs, including the A's, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Royals.
"Toronto and Kansas City told me the only guy they would go to ownership for is Furcal," Kinzer was quoted as saying. "They're serious."
The Jays were linked to Furcal earlier this offseason, but Ricciardi noted that he was content with turning to Marco Scutaro as their regular shortstop in 2009. Furcal would provide Toronto with an upgrade at the position, considering he could also double as a leadoff man -- another troublesome spot.
The Blue Jays, who have been affected by a weakened Canadian dollar and a decrease in team sponsorship, don't currently have the funds to top Oakland's offer. Toronto would need to get creative in order to reel in Furcal, who struggled with back problems, but hit .357 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 36 games for the Dodgers last season.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.