Earlier this week we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates had shown interest in shortstop Rafael Furcal. On Saturday, we heard the same reports from Furcal himself, who told Enrique Rojas of ESPN that “many teams have shown interest”, and named the Pirates as one of those teams. So far, both reports have come from the Furcal camp, with the first report coming from his agent.
This seems like a good time to point out the many possibilities that come from the word “interest”. It’s a very vague term that gets thrown around during the off-season, when teams are checking on pretty much every single player. The truth is that most teams have “shown interest” in a lot of players they aren’t going to sign. That’s because “interest” could just mean checking on his price, seeing if the player is healthy, or considering him as a Plan B, Plan C, or for a role that would be less than what he’d get from other teams.
The best way to illustrate “interest” is to look at Furcal from the Mets’ perspective. Furcal specifically mentioned that the Mets were interested in him. However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the more the Mets researched Furcal, “the greater their worry about his physical viability became”. He said that one executive said Furcal is no longer an option for the Mets. Sherman also says that officials who don’t work for the Mets have had the same physical concerns.
The Mets obviously “showed interest”, because they were looking at Furcal. In this case, it seems that they were just looking to see if he was healthy, and when they didn’t like what they saw, they moved on.
I don’t know if the Pirates are in the same situation as the Mets, where they were just looking at him to get a feel for his health. What I do know is that “interest” usually comes with the assumption that a team is heavily pursuing a player, when in fact it could just mean that they were doing due diligence. When it comes to Furcal, or any other player who receives interest from any team, I don’t think we can take the word “interest” and start penciling in that player in the starting lineup. Finding out that a team has shown interest in a player tells us who the team is looking at. The more important information is finding out how the team feels about the player after their initial interest.