In all of baseball, only nine players were given qualifying offers on Friday. One-third of those offers came from the Yankees. Players have until 5 p.m. on Friday to accept or decline, and most of them — including Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher — seem likely to decline. Hiroki Kuroda might be the player most likely to accept.
How many of these would be worth the loss of a draft pick?
OF Josh Hamilton
In terms of raw ability, Hamilton has to be the most talented player available. He also comes with a history of health problems and off-the-field concerns. At his best, Hamilton is far more valuable than the risk-reward of a first-round pick, and whether he’s a worthwhile target depends on the number of years just as much as the number of dollars.
OF Michael Bourn
A speedy center fielder with a good on-base percentage. In theory, Brett Gardner already gives the Yankees a cheaper version of Bourn. Granted, there’s more risk involved with Gardner — smaller track record, handful of health problems — but Bourn does seem a bit redundant, especially on a team that admits to a tendancy toward power hitters.
OF B.J. Upton
Also somewhat redundant, but in a different way. Upton hits like a younger version of Curtis Granderson, but Upton also manages to use his speed a little more and he could clear the way for the Yankees to either trade Granderson or let him leave via free agency a year from now. Two things to consider with an Upton signing: He’s exactly the kind of hitter that seemed to drive the Yankees crazy during those postseason struggles, and much of his value comes in his ability to play center field, which might not matter as much to a Yankees team that has Granderson, Gardner and a handful of legitimate center field prospects climbing through the system.
RHP Kyle Lohse
If the Yankees are able to re-sign both Kuroda and Andy Pettitte, then some of the rotation desperation will fade away. Lohse seems fairly similar to a handful of other starters on the market — dependable in the middle of the rotation, questionable at the top — but he and Kuroda would be the only ones with a draft pick attached.
1B Adam LaRoche
Coming off a nice year with the Nationals, LaRoche’s left-handed power could play well in Yankee Stadium, but he’s also limited to first base, and of the players on this list, he seems like the worst fit for the current Yankees roster. The Yankees do have room for a designated hitter, but that’s probably going to have to be a platoon with room for Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter to get some DH starts. Can’t see spending the money — and the draft pick — to put LaRoche in that role.
DH David Ortiz
This one is already off the market. The Red Sox made a just-in-case qualifying offer to Ortiz, but they ultimately locked him up with a two-year deal.
Associated Press photos