It has been a long season for Rafael Furcal and the Dodgers. He has had two long stints on the disabled list, once with a broken thumb and another with an oblique strain, and while on the field he has struggled mightily. Furcal has played in 26 of the Dodgers' 94 games this season, and has just 17 hits in 100 at-bats.
Since returning from his latest DL stint, Furcal has three hits in 34 at-bats. However, the Dodgers simply have to play him every day...at least for the next two weeks. The non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 is two weeks from today, and whether GM Ned Colletti admits it or not, the Dodgers are done this season, at 42-52 and 11.5 games out of first place.
But even if the Dodgers have a nearly impossible run in them -- something like a 10-game winning streak -- they need Furcal in the lineup to make that happen. "If we're going to get going, he's going to have to go," manager Don Mattingly said of his shortstop on Saturday. However, the better reason why Furcal needs to play is to increase his trade value.
Furcal needs to show potential suitors that he can still play over these next two weeks, so the Dodgers can get something, anything in return for him. Furcal is making $12 million this season, so trading him on July 31 would unload roughly $3.86 million, but the Dodgers should consider eating as much of his salary as possible in order to maximize their return in prospect(s).
Of course, this could all be rendered moot by Furcal exercising his no-trade rights as a player with at least 10 years of big league service time and five years with his current team. But that shouldn't be a major impediment if the Dodgers are intent on dealing him. After all, Dee Gordon is their future at shortstop and while Gordon hit just .232/.250/.280 in his first big league stint, he needs to play in MLB so the Dodgers can properly evaluate him for 2012.
On August 1, the Dodgers open a series in San Diego against the Padres. Gordon should be starting at shortstop in that game, and for the rest of this season. Whether Furcal is with another team or sitting on the Dodger bench that night at Petco Park is entirely up to Furcal these next two weeks.
For more news and information on Rafael Furcal and the Dodgers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.