Brian Cashman and the rest of baseball’s general managers will leave Indian Wells today. It’s been a typically quiet series of GM Meetings here in California, and the Yankees are predictably expected to leave town without getting any sort of real work done. They might very well have laid some groundwork and made some progress toward something, but right now they have nothing to show for it.
Instead, today’s main event is one set in motion exactly one week ago: Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda each have until 5 p.m. ET to accept or reject the Yankees qualifying offers. The basic expectation is that all three will decline, with Kuroda the only potential exception to the rule.
The Yankees regular right fielder the past four seasons, Swisher could be one of the most popular free agents on the market, and it only makes sense that he’ll try to take advantage of that and land a multi-year contract elsewhere. It seems remarkably unlikely that such an offer will come from the Yankees, and there’s no question the Yankees have to find some way to replace Swisher’s spot on the roster and, ultimately, his production in the lineup.
“A switch hitter, plate discipline, power, he can play multiple positions; … That is a beast,” Cashman said. “What he’s done for us has been significant, especially when you balance the lineup out. All these left handers, it’s nice to have a Teixeira and Swisher (as switch hitters). Trying to retain him or having to replace him, if we don’t have that animal there, you’re going to miss it big time and it’s hard to replace.”
A closer turned setup man turned closer, Soriano opted out of the final year of his contract and seems certain to pursue a multi-year deal elsewhere. Barring a stunning surprise, Soriano will hit the market this afternoon and the Yankees will be left with a decision about whether or not they should replace him in the bullpen.
“I do like what we have,” Cashman said. “I think Joba’s going to be really good for us. I think Robertson, obviously, we already know how good he is. I think Logan has been very underrated. I think Clay Rapada was a huge addition for us. We got two real quality left handers out of our bullpen. I think Aardsma, a former closer with Seattle after Tommy John, I think that was a very low-cost move, a half-million bucks plus incentives. and I think that will serve us well. But I don’t know, it’s hard to say. Do we have to replace (Soriano)? Let’s first find out if he’s not even with us, I guess.”
Of these three, Kuroda is the only one worth considering as a potential qualifying offer acceptance. In this market, Kuroda could probably get more than $13.3 million and could probably sign for more than one year, but Kuroda is the rare player who seems to value situation ahead of contract, and he might actually prefer a one-year deal at this stage of his career. He would significantly improve the current Yankees rotation if he were to accept, but that seems unlikely, and the Yankees might have to increase their offer to retain Kuroda.
“I think he was very happy here,” Cashman said. “I think he loved it here. I think he’s had a positive experience with all the teams he’s played for. I can’t speak for him, I think he loved playing for the Hiroshima Carp, I think he loved playing for the Dodgers, and I think he loved playing for the Yankees. So what that means in 2013, I don’t know.”
Associated Press photo