Braves general manager Frank Wren said Thursday the Braves have notified the baseball agency that represents Rafael Furcal that they intend never to do business with them again.
The Braves thought they had a deal earlier this week to bring the star shortstop back to Atlanta, where he began his career, before Furcal decided to stay with the Dodgers for virtually the same terms. Wren said that Braves president John Schuerholz called Arn Tellem, who heads the baseball division of the Wasserman Media Group, to inform Tellem that the Braves will no longer enter into negotiations with them regarding baseball clients.
"We don't have any intention of doing business with them, and they've been notified of that,'' Wren told SI.com this afternoon.
Reminded that Tellem's group of agents -- which includes well-established veterans such as Tom Reich, Adam Katz and Paul Kinzer -- is one of the biggest in baseball and represents many star players (including Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Giambi and many more players), Wren responded, "When you can't trust who you're doing business with, you can't do business with them. It's plain and simple.''
Tellem reponded to the Braves' claims in a lengthy e-mail, saying: "There was never an agreement reached between Rafael Furcal and the Atlanta Braves. In fact, the Braves were fully aware that Furcal was not prepared to make a decision but had requested an opportunity to sleep on it, before deciding."
The Furcal negotiations were anything but simple, and ended with Furcal returning to the Dodgers for basically the same three-year, $30 million deal the Braves believe he'd agreed to with them.
As Wren tells it, he and Kinzer, Furcal's main rep, negotiated the terms over several calls Monday night, and after Kinzer told Wren that if he raised the base a little, they'd be able to make a deal, Wren did just that. Kinzer then told him "I think we're good,'' but still explained he had to take it to Furcal.
Sometime later, there was a message on Wren's voicemail with Kinzer saying, "We're good. Raffy's excited. Send me the term sheet.''
Wren sent the sheet. But Furcal never signed it, and according to Wren, Kinzer started "backpedaling.'' Pretty soon, Furcal's agency was talking to the Dodgers and within a day agreed to virtually the same deal with L.A.: $30 million over three years with a vesting option for a fourth year based on Furcal's health. In L.A.'s deal, Furcal needs 600 at-bats in 2011 for the fourth year to vest; Atlanta's deal was slightly better for Furcal, stipulating that he needed only 130 games to have it vest.
It's a little bit of a mystery why Furcal would rather go to L.A. after he was said to be excited to return to his roots in Atlanta. But Wren can't believe it's because they told Furcal they were envisioning him at second base instead of shortstop. Wren said they told Furcal that three weeks earlier, and that Furcal raised no objection and in fact seemed enthused about the prospect.
So where does this leave Wren and the Braves? They are looking for a pitcher and an outfielder after making an exception with Furcal, a player they loved. And as he concedes, they're out of luck on this deal. But they won't let this happen again.
"There's nothing enforceable,'' Wren said. "We just took his word. That doesn't count for much.''