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Braves Sign Rafael Furcal, May Talk Trade with Pirates

The Braves have agreed to a deal with Rafael Furcal, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The interesting thing about it is that the Braves didn't exactly need a middle infielder, as they already had a pretty good middle infield in Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. So this could set the Braves up to either move Johnson to the outfield or trade one of their middle infielders for pitching. The AJC suggest that the Pirates could be involved in that trade if that happens, perhaps trading Paul Maholm.

This would make some sense--if Jack Wilson is traded. Right now, the Pirates already have a middle infield. I like Escobar a lot, but I don't think he alone would be enough of a return for Maholm. Johnson is a better hitter, but a trade for him would seem more unlikely: like Sanchez, he's had injuries that limit his ability to throw, so he couldn't play shortstop, in which case a Wilson trade wouldn't open a spot for him.

Anyway, this move probably can't go anywhere until a Wilson trade goes down, and I have my doubts now that it ever will. But it's worth keeping in mind.