Rafael Furcal reached a preliminary agreement yesterday on a $33 million, three-year contract that will keep him with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Just one day earlier, the shortstop had been close to accepting a $30 million, three-year offer from the Atlanta Braves, his original major-league team.

Furcal will get $7.5 million next season, $9.5 million in 2010 and $13 million in 2011, a source told the Associated Press. The deal includes a $13 million team option for 2012 with a $3 million buyout, and the option could become guaranteed depending on his performance.

The 31-year-old Furcal, coming off a $39 million, three-year deal with the Dodgers, played for the Braves from 2000 to '05.

He hit .357 with five homers and 16 RBIs last season but was limited to 36 games and 143 at-bats by back problems. Furcal was hitting .366 through May 5 before injuring his back.

Mets.

Owner Jeff Wilpon said the massive theft allegedly conducted by financier Bernard Madoff may hurt some of his partners but will not affect the team.

Federal investigators say Madoff may have stolen $50 billion from clients, a group that included Sterling Equities, the Wilpon family's real estate company.

"The individual partners lost some money at Madoff," Wilpon said. "It doesn't affect the Mets. It doesn't affect the Citi Field project. It doesn't affect any of our other operating businesses."

He vehemently stated that the team was "uncategorically, totally, completely not for sale."

"Not a piece of it, not a part of it, none of it," he said.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said that to the sport's knowledge, no other major-league owners had invested with Madoff.

Wilpon said the millions of dollars the team set aside to fund deferred payments owed players such as Mo Vaughn, as required by Article XVI of the sport's collective bargaining agreement, were safe. Those funds are with the family's investment company, Sterling Stamos Capital Management, LP, which did not invest with Madoff.

Elsewhere.

Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg will manage the Chicago Cubs' double-A Tennessee Smokies, a Southern League team in Sevierville, Tenn., in 2009. Sandberg managed the single-A Peoria Chiefs for the last two seasons. . . . The Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League gave manager Von Hayes a two-year contract extension. . . . New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain had his arraignment on drunken-driving charges in Lincoln, Neb., delayed until Jan. 26. . . . The Baltimore Orioles have fallen behind in the bidding for first baseman Mark Teixeira, ESPN reported. The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals have offered more for Teixeira, according to the report.