With the divisional round in full swing, there was an important piece of offseason news that came out over the weekend. Via Eric Fisher, the value for qualifying free agent offers will be bumped up to $15.8 million this year. Last year the QO value was $15.3 million. The QO process is one that the Yankees have been heavily involved in and influenced by since its inception. They have made qualifying offers to multiple internal free agents and recouped extra draft picks when those players have signed elsewhere. Aaron Judge and Ian Clarkin were both supplemental 1st round picks granted to the Yankees by the QO rules. They have also surely altered plans to pursue free agents that would have been good roster fits due to the draft pick forfeiture that comes with signing guys who have QO status.
For the first time in maybe forever, this coming offseason is shaping up to be one in which the Yankees are not influenced at all by the QO process. There are very few players on the current 40-man roster set to hit free agency this offseason, and the ones that are certainly don't qualify for qualifying offer consideration. Stephen Drew, Chris Capunao, Chris Young, that's the list of Yankee free agents to be. That group isn't worth $15.8 million collectively, certainly not after the seasons Drew and Cap had. It only cost the Yankees $12.5 million to sign this lot last offseason.
So no supplemental draft picks to be gained, which makes the Yankees less likely to give up their own 1st round pick to sign a QO player. They showed that they're committed to building and replacing their aging core from within this year, and not having a 1st round draft pick in a year when you're still held down by the new international spending rules doesn't jibe with that plan. They're also going to have most of their roster back next year, so the chances of them being heavily involved in the free agent market this offseason seem lower than usual. If there's a player that fits but comes with QO draft pick compensation, they'll pass.
On the positive side, there is a sizable group of top free agents that will not be eligible for qualifying offers this offseason because they were traded before the deadline. The top 2 names that come to mind here are David Price and Ben Zobrist, players who the Yankees pursued at the deadline but ultimately did not acquire. Both would still be very good fits for next year's team, and now if the Steinbrenners do decide to open the checkbook and go after one of them, they can do so without fear of giving up that coveted draft pick.
It feels like there's always been at least one "will they make him the offer? Should they make him the offer" situation for the Yankees every offseason, but that won't be happening this year. The Yankees would be stupid to make a $15.8 million offer to any of their impending free agents. They'd also be unwise to give up their draft pick by signing a QO player this offseason but I don't think that's very likely. As far as the qualifying offer goes, it'll be a quiet year for the Yankees.