Surrounded by media standing four or five deep, Scott Boras just spoke in the hotel lobby and left little doubt that his client, Rafael Soriano, will decline the Yankees qualifying offer.
“Most qualifying offers are really for players of the highest value,” Boras said. “When teams make them, they’re acknowledging the value and other teams know that, as well. I don’t anticipate many players accepting single-year contracts that are in that arena.”
As for current value, Boras made the case that Soriano might have been the difference in some teams making or missing the playoffs this season, and he played up the idea that the Yankees shouldn’t easily let go of such late-inning comfort.
“If you look at the Angels, Dodgers, White Sox, Milwaukee; those teams would have been in the playoffs if they had a closer that had the efficiency rating of Soriano,” Boras said. “The Yankees took advantage of that. If that was a really good business decision for the Yankees two years ago, and it proved to be so valued today, it certainly would be a wiser decision when (Mariano) Rivera is older and coming off an injury.”
Brian Cashman said he hasn’t heard and hasn’t asked whether Soriano, Nick Swisher or Hiroki Kuroda will accept or decline their qualifying offers — “We’d be very happy (if they accept), let’s put it that way,” Cashman said — but it’s becoming clear that the Yankees are setting priorities this offseason. One-year deals are one thing, but with $189 million in mind for next year, the Yankees have to pick and choose where they allocate funds.
That alone might be enough to keep the Yankees out of the Soriano bidding should he hit the open market.
“It would be great if we had them both (Soriano and Rivera),” Cashman said. “The only bad side to having them both — and I don’t have Mo, and I don’t have Soriano (right now) — but obviously it would affect dollars to be spent elsewhere. But bullpens are big time, so do I have to replace him? I think it’s relative to how that would impact the other side of it.”
• Boras certainly sounded as if he’s not expecting to come to terms on a contract extension for Robinson Cano any time soon. “He’s there for another year,” Boras said. “I talked to Randy (Levine) a few times this week. I talked to Cash. These are things that, I’m sure as time goes forward, we’ll continue to talk about. But nothing current.”
• Just to be clear, Cashman said that if Soriano does happen to accept the qualifying offer, he has no problem with paying both Soriano and Rivera closer money next season. “That would happen,” Cashman said. “If he accepts, yeah, absolutely. We made that decision when we tendered the offer.”
• Because Tino Martinez was serving as a senior advisor in the Yankees organization, he had to receive permission to interview for the Marlins hitting coach job. “You combine the great player with that type of experience in seeing how things get done, and I think he’s got a tremendous amount to offer,” Cashman said.
• The Yankees never talked about making Martinez their hitting coach. “We didn’t have any vacancies,” Cashman said. “The Yankees, we’ve been blessed to have some tremendous hitting coaches, from Don Mattingly to Kevin Long, so it’s not an area that’s needed to be addressed at all.”
• Although he hasn’t asked whether Kuroda will accept a qualifying offer, Cashman said he has spoken to Kuroda’s agent. “Yes,” Cashman said. “I wouldn’t say, and I couldn’t say (what exactly the conversation was about).”
• Just something to keep in mind: Ken Davidoff brought up that the $189 million luxury tax threshold includes more than player salary. There’s a certain amount of money — something around $10-12 million, Cashman said — that’s automatically factored in for things like travel expenses. So in terms of player contracts, the Yankees have to get closer to $177 million to stay below the luxury tax.
• Cashman dismissed the idea that the Yankees can’t get better while also working to control spending. “Didn’t we get better this year?” he said. “Ninety-five wins. Won the American League East. Went farther in the playoffs (than the year before). Got older, probably. … Improved flexibility. Kept financial costs in check. Lined ourselves up for the long term going that route in certain areas, and we’re better.”
Associated Press photos