Qualifying Offer Candidates: Yay Or Nay

(I wrote this on AB4AR earlier in the month.  With the offseason officially under way now, it seems appropriate to re-post here)

The offseason has officially started and the Yankees are now face-to-face with a buttload of decisions to make for 2014.  They’re losing a lot of players to retirement and free agency, and with the payroll budget and A-Rod’s suspension uncertainty hanging over them it could be quite the uphill battle to replace, rebuild, restock, and re-up for next season.  One of the first round of decisions they’ll have to make is whether to extend qualifying offers to some of their own free agents.  With the QO value expected to be around $14 million, that’s a significant chunk of change to tack onto the payroll for a team on a budget.  The Yankees are going to have to weigh the value of that salary and anticipated production against the possible draft pick.

Now we’re not talking about every free agent here.  Obviously the Yankees aren’t going to make offers to Mo or Andy because they know they’re retiring.  I’m also pretty sure they won’t be making offers to guys like Kevin Youkilis and Boone Logan because they’re nowhere near being worth that kind of money.  There are 4 players who stand out as potential candidates.  Here are my decisions on whether to make each of those 4 a qualifying offer.

Robinson Cano- Yay

Kind of a no-brainer really.  There’s absolutely nothing to lose here from the Yankees’ perspective.  They know Cano isn’t going to accept that deal and they’re already in the process of working out a new long-term deal with him anyway.  Might as well cover your bases and at least be able to get something back for him in the event he does sign elsewhere.  With reports already out that the Dodgers aren’t interested and few other big money teams with a need at second, the Yanks are the comfortable favorite to sign Robbie.  No harm in giving yourself that extra little bit of insurance.

Curtis Granderson- Yay

The case for Curtis is the trickiest one of the bunch.  The Yankees need offense next year, Curtis is already a great fit for their park, and $14 million is pretty fair market value for him given his age and injury-riddled down year in 2013.  The Yankees also don’t want to cut things too close on the payroll threshold, and making the QO might be enough to scare some potential FA suitors away if they decide a 1st round pick isn’t worth giving up for multiple years of a mid-30s, strikeout-heavy hitter who could already be in the early stages of decline.  In the end, I think making the QO to Curtis is the right move.  For 1 year he might be the best offensive OF the Yanks can get.  They already know what he’s capable of when healthy, and if another team does decide they want him at least New York gets comped a pick.

Hiroki Kuroda- Yay

This decision is more situationally-driven than any other.  The Yankees would probably like to let Hirok walk after 2 years of above-average production that saw him fall off late in the season.  While he hasn’t gotten injured, it certainly appears as though the heavy workload takes a toll on him, and better to cut bait before that injury luck turns on them.  They also don’t have much in the way of capable replacements for him next season.  If it started today, Ivan Nova would be the #2 starter behind CC and Michael Pineda might be the #3.  Kuroda may tire before the finish line, but he’s damn good leading up to it and has been the team’s best starter since the start of 2012.  Getting him back at $14 mil would be a good deal and would greatly strengthen the front end of next year’s rotation.  If he walks, at least there’s some more cushion for the payroll.

Phil Hughes- Do I even have to explain this?

I know the front office thought it had everything figured out earlier in the season.  But that was before Hughes started pitching so terribly that Joe had to handcuff him to David Huff and start hustling out of the dugout in the 3rd and 4th innings of games to get Hughes out of there before he really started screwing things up.  The Yankees already made it clear that they don’t want Hughes back next season, so there’s no reason to even make that a possibility.  Cut him loose, let him hit the market and see what teams are willing to take the plunge.

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.