When the Miami Marlins signed Rafael Furcal, the signing was met with mostly criticism and questions of why the team would bother to sign the aging infielder. After all, Furcal has not played in a big league game since 2012 and is not getting any younger. He also hasn’t played much second base in his career but will be asked to do so on a regular basis for the Marlins. When all is said and done, though, Furcal is going to prove to be a very wise signing for the Marlins and will be looked at as a bargain.
The Marlins have stated that they plan to bat Furcal in the lead-off spot which is a bold move with all the time he’s missed. It’s not crazy, though, since his injury had to do with his arm and not his legs. In theory, some speed should still be there and Furcal is a career .346 on-base percentage type of player. It’s certainly possible that he gets on base on a regular basis in 2014 and sets the table for the middle of the order.
In 2012, Furcal was the starting shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals and had a slash-line of .264/.325/.346 in a season where he earned his third All-Star appearance. The numbers are nothing spectacular, but they are mostly due to a poor second half. The last time Furcal had an above average season was in 2010 while as a starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers he had a slash-line of .300/.366/.460. Furcal also made the All-Star game in that year while swiping 22 bags. It’s not likely that Furcal will ever have a season like that again, but it’s possible he can still be an above average player.
The key for the Marlins beyond his yearlong layoff at the plate will be how Furcal adapts to second base, a position he’s only played in 36 big league games and none since 2004. Furcal is an exceptional athlete and has one of the best instructors in the business to help him in Perry Hill. Furcal should prove to be an asset in the field and not a liability. The former Rookie of the Year should produce more than the in-house options of Derek Dietrich and Donovan Solano likely would have as well.
Will Furcal ever be the player he was for the Atlanta Braves in his early years again? No, that’s very unlikely. However, he should be more than capable of helping the Marlins win and should quiet those critics on his way to reaching all the incentive clauses in his contract.