The New York Yankees are one of just two teams who extended three qualifying offers this off season. Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano are all in QO limbo right now and all three, most recently, are unlikely to accept.
The Yankees are trying to make an honest effort to reset tax calculations in 2014 but also convince its fans they are competing, but also yet have an eye towards consistent contention in the future, a concept which can only be built with better drafts.
To the last point, New York took a new philosophy towards the draft in 2013 and targeted polished college players instead of high-ceiling high school players.
Early dividends are positive as three of the Yankees’ top four prospects had successful campaigns in A ball.
Assuming all three players reject qualifying offers, it means three potential extra picks in the draft after the first round should those players sign elsewhere.
Curtis Granderson is a near guarantee to do this while Cano is probably 50-50 and Kuroda is unlikely go to anywhere except New York or Japan, neither of which would grant the Yankees an extra pick.
Avoid Brian McCann and target someone like Carlos Ruiz, who can be had for no pick, provides solid defense (unlike Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and can be a bridge until the Yankees know what they have with a few of their catching prospects. It’s like a second shot at Russell Martin.
Avoid Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana and go after Masahiro Tanaka, the 25-year-old who won’t cost a pick and most of his price will come in a posting fee, a number that doesn’t count towards payroll. This is the key of the entire off season.
Tanaka should project as a two or three starter and can step in to replace Kuroda (or replace Pettitte if Kuroda resigns), except more than 15 years younger. If Michael Pineda can come all the way back, the Yankees would have their compliments to CC Sabathia.
If Cano doesn’t come back, then target Choo, Carlos Beltran, McCann or a combination since losing the 18th pick is likely not damaging if you have two or three picks in the 30’s.
Either way, the Yankees can put together another solid draft, add a crucial piece for the future, restore some offense behind the plate (and keep the defense) and spend extremely large after two huge drafts in 2015, when they will hopefully have a more formidable roster to contend with anyway.