With the new-ish MLB Draft slotting system, teams are oftentimes forced to choose between signing a noteworthy free agent and a few million dollars in pool money. Signing a free agent that received a rejected a qualifying offer requires a team to forfeit their top pick (unless they are picking in the top-ten) - in the Yankees case, that would mean eschewing somewhere between $2 MM and $2.3 MM in the upcoming draft, in addition to the pick itself. To say that that would serve as a detriment to the team's draft would be an understatement, given the team's lingering IFA penalty that already limited the team's activity this year. Luckily for the Yankees, there are at least a dozen players that would fill the team's needs for 2016 without any repercussions (besides the whole decline and injury potential thing, but that's another story entirely) as they cannot receive a qualify offer due to being dealt at mid-season. We'll known on Saturday what players were offered and rejected qualifying offers, as well. Without further ado:
David Price, LHP
Does Price really need an explanation? He's a bona fide ace coming off of what may be his best season, and he has plenty of experience in the playoffs and the AL East. The contract that he demands is obviously the biggest factor here, particularly given what we have seen with CC Sabathia - but at least it's just money.
Actually, let that be a caveat going forward: I am not necessarily endorsing signing these folk. I'm merely pointing out that all of these players could be had for cold hard cash, and cold hard cash alone.
Johnny Cueto, RHP
Cueto is a step behind Price overall, but he has nonetheless been a quality starting pitcher for the last half dozen years or so. The impact that his lackluster performance with the Royals will have (if any) remains to be seen.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF
Cespedes seems like a lock to be overpaid, due to his late Summer brilliance with the Mets, and clutch home runs down the stretch and in the NLDS. He is coming off of a strong all-around season (his best since his rookie year), and can fake it in center field. The Yankees don't have an obvious need for an outfielder, but some are clamoring for the team to deal Brett Gardner and/or Jacoby Ellsbury, so it may come down to a matter of need and/or opportunity.
Ben Zobrist, 2B
If Zobrist wasn't six month shy of his 35th birthday, he may well be the biggest slam dunk of a free agent target in recent Yankees memory. He fills a great need at second, and provides the sort of flexibility that the team is praying to get from Dustin Ackley. And, despite his age, he's coming off of a season that's right in-line with his career norms.
Scott Kazmir, LHP
For the second season in a row, Kazmir was brilliant in the first half (2.49 ERA, 3.23 FIP) and below-average in the second (3.86, 4.90 FIP). Overall, he has been a solid starter since returning from a nearly two-year layoff, which might just be the reason for him slipping as the innings pile up.
Mike Leake, RHP
My description of Leake from late June still stands - he's as average as average can be. The calculus shifts in the off-season, though, as the team would not have to give up any talent in exchange for a starting pitcher that has averaged 31 starts and 194 IP over the last four seasons.
Mat Latos, RHP
Latos represents the point where these guys wouldn't be too likely to get a qualifying offer, though he has value as a bounceback candidate. He was an above-average starter from 2010 through 2014 before the wheels fell off in 2015.
Juan Uribe, IF
If the Yankees want a flexible, RHH complement to Ackley, then they don't have to look much further than Uribe.
Austin Jackson, OF
I am intrigued by Jackson's prospects, given how disappointing he's been since being dealt to the Mariners. Will a team give him a chance to start in center-field? Would he take a one-year pillow contract and try to regain his value? Or will he take on a fourth outfielder role? He could fit as a Chris Young replacement.
Joakim Soria, RHP
Some team will throw money at him to close - far more money than the Yankees could give him to be the 7th inning guy. At the very least, we know that the team has an interest in obtaining another weapon for the back of the bullpen, and he's the best fit on the market.
Chase Utley, 2B
Utley is only here because of who he is; or, rather, was. He hit .212/.286/.343 and struggled to stay on the field. I'm nostalgic enough to see him coming through with one last hurrah, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Marlon Byrd, OF
Byrd makes the cut if only because we know that the Yankees need a lefty-mashing counterpart to their starting outfield, and he fits that bill wonderfully. He had a 121 wRC+ against LHP in 2015, to go along with a career 111 wRC+ mark against southpaws.
Again, there are plenty of negatives to be found with most everyone on this list - including the dollar signs. Even so, it bears discussing as the Yankees could improve their postseason odds markedly without sacrificing draft picks in the process.