Furcal's agent: No contract offer from A's

The agent for Rafael Furcal called "bogus" a report out of the Dominican Republic claiming the Oakland Athletics had offered the free-agent shortstop a four-year, $48 million contract.

Agent Paul Kinzer also shot down a rumor the Mets had any interest in Furcal as a second baseman, or that Furcal would be inclined to switch positions.

The A's and Giants have been most aggressive, according to Kinzer, in an aggressive market for Furcal. The Dodgers figure to remain involved. And Kinzer, with a chuckle, said there was, "a surprise team, not the Mets."

The Braves figure to make a run at Furcal if Yunel Escobar goes to the Padres in a Jake Peavy deal. The Cubs, Orioles and Cardinals would have reasons to pursue Furcal, who has been told he'd have little future back issues if he adhered to a rigid conditioning and maintenance program.

Notes: Here are the significant deadlines coming: Monday – Last day for teams to offer their free agents salary arbitration (in order to be eligible for draft-pick compensation); Dec. 12 – Non-tender date, or the day teams decide whether to offer contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man roster. An assistant GM said Monday that between those dates and the economic crisis and the fact Scott Boras has his share of big free agents, the market has slowed. … The Red Sox still assume Jason Varitek will be their catcher in 2009, according to sources within the organization. That said, they are preparing themselves otherwise. Miguel Montero and Gerald Laird are out there. They're going hard at Mark Teixeira because they see critical parts of their roster in decline, among them David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Varitek. And Teixeira is everything the Red Sox adore in a player. He's not a big personality, but, hey, he'll get on base and drive in runs. Somebody else can be colorful.