Well it is official. We are going to need a new shortstop. I can't say I am that surprised. I don't think the Braves were going to spend more than 8 or 9 million per year on him. The Braves just couldn't compete with the Dodgers offer of 13 million per year. So the question is who is going to replace Furcal? Here are some scenerios that I can see playing out.
1. The most likely option in my opinion is they will trade acquire a shortstop from outside of the organization. There has been a lot of talk about getting Julio Lugo from Tampa Bay. Lugo's career numbers are remarkably comparable to Furcal's and would serve as a good leadoff replacement. They could also sign Nomar and either bat Giles or KJ leadoff or sign a left fielder who is suited for the leadoff role.
2. Wilson Betemit could be given the everyday starting SS job. He has finally developed into a good hitter and showed some real promise last year. The only problem is that he has grown out of a shortstop's body. His range at SS is very questionable even though his offense is not. Also, he would not provide an answer to the leadoff situation.
3. They have some really good SS prospects in the minors but they will not be ready for next season. Whoever starts at SS next year is probably just going to keep it warm until Yunel Escobar is ready. He was drafted out of Cuba at an older age than normal so his development should be fairly rapid. Another guy they have is Elvis Andrus. He is only 17 years old but is showing a ton of promise in the low minor leagues. He is still a few years away at least.
In the end losing Furcal is a big hit but the Braves are used to losing top guys to free agency. They just aren't one of the big spending clubs anymore. I'm sure JS and Bobby Cox have a plan in place to compensate for the loss of Furcal next year. Now that Furcal is gone, it gives the Braves a lot of financial flexibility to go ahead and upgrade at RP and LF.