Three Yankees decline qualifying offers
As expected, outfielder Nick Swisher, and pitchers Rafael Soriano and Hiroki Kuorda, each declined the New York Yankees’ respective $13.3 million qualifying offers. The trio had to inform the Yankees of their decisions by 5 p.m. on Friday and now hits the open market as free agents.
Although Swisher averaged 26 home runs and 87 RBIs over four years with the Yankees, including a .272 clip with 24 homers and 93 RBIs last season, he’s hitting just .169 in 154 postseason at-bats. Five teams are reportedly interested in Swisher, a switch-hitter who played mostly right field but also served as a valuable fill-in at first base for an ailing Mark Teixeira. Despite the playoff track record, the Yankees have been happy with Swisher, but since they want to reduce payroll to $189 million by 2014 they are unwilling to offer a multi-year, big-money deal he desires.
“Swisher was awesome for us,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said this week at the GM meetings. “If it's not him out there, which I can't say one way or the other, I can't predict, but it's going to take a lot of work to replace what he provided.”
Signed in January to a one-year, $10 million contract, Kuroda produced a wholly impressive 16-11 record with a 3.32 ERA in 219.2 innings pitched. Teams including the L.A. Dodgers, which whom he made his United States debut, and the Boston Red Sox have been linked to the right-hander. While collecting items at Yankee Stadium for Hurricane Sandy relief, Yankees manager Joe Girardi acknowledged Kuroda eventually may want to finish his career in Japan. If Kuroda signs elsewhere, the Yankees rotation will have a few holes – especially if Andy Pettitte decides to retire again. CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and David Phelps would appear to be the top-four starters if Kuroda and Pettitte are not with the team to open Spring Training.
Soriano, who saved 42 games since taking over the closer’s role in May after Mariano Rivera tore his ACL, was set to make $14 million in 2013, but instead exercised his option to opt out of the contract he signed upon his arrival in 2011. He said after inheriting Rivera’s job how much he loves closing and is certain to make big money cashing in on a new opportunity. The American League champion Detroit Tigers, in need of a closer after Jose Valverde struggled, would appear to be the likely suitors for Soriano, who turns 33 in December and is after a three-year deal or more.