I can't remember who left the comment that Rafael Furcal isn't going to be expensive this off-season, but Joe Sheehan of the outstanding Baseball Prospectus agrees with me and, in fact, sets Furcal's value higher:
"I missed this, so maybe you did, too: Rafael Furcal, whose OBP was below .300 on July 1, is hitting .322/.399/.470 since the All-Star break and having his best defensive season to boot. He's a huge part of the Braves' jillionth division title, and about to become a very wealthy man. If Edgar Renteria got four years and $40 million coming off his .287/.327/.401 age-28 season, how does Furcal not start at four and $48 million hitting the market a a year younger and with higher everything, including a possible Gold Glove Award?"
Furcal's value won't be quite that high because most of the primary big spenders in baseball - the Yankees (Jeter), Red Sox (Renteria), Orioles (Tejada), Mets (Reyes), Dodgers (Izturis), Phillies (Rollins), Angels (Cabrera), Cardinals (Eckstein), and Cubs (Nomar) - all have long-term commitments at the position. The most likely suitors would be the White Sox, Mariners, Nationals, Astros, D-Backs, or Giants, unless some team came completely out of nowhere and decided to increase their payroll. That said, there's always the possibility that one of the big market teams could trade their shortstop or move him around the infield, as the Cubs are apparently considering. Still, the Braves might luck out this winter and find that the market for Furcal isn't commensurate with his actual value. On the other hand, if Giles was the free agent, then a number of the wealthy teams would be interested, starting with the Red Sox.