Monday, November 3, 2014

New York Yankees set to determine qualifying offers

The deadline to submit qualifying offers to players is Monday at 5:00 p.m. The New York Yankees will assuredly extend one to closer David Robertson, while the jury is out on whether they will make one for starter Hiroki Kuroda.

If Robertson accepts the $15.3 million offer, he would be the first player to ever do so and the highest paid reliever for a season in baseball history. With Robertson the top reliever on the market, and plenty of teams looking to fill the role, he will likely forgo the offer and see what he can get on the open market.

At 30, this could be Robertson’s only chance to secure a multiyear deal, so why risk it on a one year contract? With baseball contracts fully guaranteed, it only makes sense for Robertson to cash in when his value is at its highest.

Robertson has his detractors, but it’s hard to find a reliever with his success rate under the microscope of the Bronx. Robertson’s ability to follow up Mariano Rivera as closer was as good as the Yankees could have hoped for. His 13.43 K/9 rate in 2014 was exceptional and he’s been exceedingly consistent as evidenced by his 2.48, 2.61 and 2.68 FIP the last three seasons.

So, what will it take to keep Robertson? My guess is four years at $52-56 million would do the trick, though it would not be surprising to see the terms rise courtesy of a bidding war.

How about Hiroki Kuroda?

Word from Kuroda was that he was once again pondering retirement. He’ll be 40 years old during the 2015 season and while he was steady for the Yankees once again in 2014, have they reached a point where they believe Kuroda is simply going to break down?

Kuroda produced a 3.5 fWAR in 2014, putting his value in the neighborhood of $19.2 million to $24.5 million depending on how you choose to calculate the WAR/value metric.

It might be difficult for Kuroda to pass up $15.3 million for another go around in the Bronx. And the Yankees could certainly use the depth he would provide considering the many questions surrounding those already under contract – CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova.

The Yankees might be more willing to secure Brandon McCarthy for two or three years at a lower average annual value in the hopes that he can be the same pitcher they had in the second half of 2014. Then they would fill the fifth starter slot with someone on the roster; David Phelps, Shane GreeneBryan Mitchell or another young arm who comes out of spring training.

If Kuroda was to accept, it might be more difficult to ink McCarthy as well, when looking at the other areas the Yankees need to fill – closer, shortstop, fourth outfielder and first/third baseman – and based on Hal Steinbrenner's budget.

If the Yankees decide not to give him the offer, then they are hedging bets that no one else will be interested in Kuroda (and that he’d be uninterested in signing anywhere but New York, or potentially a west coast team because of the proximity to Japan). I think that’s a hard pill to swallow considering the cash available in those cities and if I was general manager Brian Cashman, I would give Kuroda the offer and be happy with a 2.5 – 3.0 WAR player next season if Kuroda in fact decided to come back to the Bronx. It allows for more flexibility with the young arms mentioned above and provides a net if they cannot sign McCarthy.

We’ll see what the Yankees do. What do you think they should do? Let me know in the comments below.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.