SS Furcal turns down Oakland's offer

Talks between Oakland and shortstop Rafael Furcal broke down Friday after Furcal's side rejected a multiyear offer that was essentially take-it-or-leave-it from the Athletics.

"They needed some freedom to make the moves they needed to -- that's fine," Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, told Foxsports.com, which reported the offer was for four years at $35 million‑$40 million.

The market for Furcal has never really developed; if you were to draw up a list of five players who have been hurt by the economic slowdown, Furcal might be somewhere near the top.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are playing in an NL West filled with teams cutting payroll -- the Padres, Rockies and Diamondbacks -- and this has allowed Los Angeles to play it conservatively, as it did earlier this week when it declined to offer Furcal arbitration.

The Blue Jays had intended to make a strong bid for Furcal, but their payroll is now locked in place, and the Cardinals opted for a short-term solution at shortstop, trading for Khalil Greene.

The Athletics, one of the few teams with money to spend this winter, responded to Furcal's shrinking market by making a competitive offer -- but an offer far less than what Furcal's side had hoped for.

Oakland appears comfortable with Bobby Crosby as its shortstop in 2009 and will spend its available cash elsewhere.

Oakland's most pressing need might be a veteran starting pitcher who can stabilize the Athletics' rotation at the outset of the season, for at least a couple of months, as the team's young starters get settled.

And where does Furcal go? Well, he's the perfect player for some big-money contender to snag for a big-money, short-term deal, but such an offer may not emerge for some time.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.