The Yankees, as expected, made qualifying offers of $13.3 million to free agents Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda on Friday.
Soriano and Swisher are almost certain to decline. There's a chance Kuroda could accept.
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A player receiving a qualifying offer has until next Friday to accept or decline. If he accepts, he is signed at that price. A player who declines the offer becomes a free agent, and if he signs with another team, the team that made the offer receives draft-pick compensation.
Retaining Kuroda, 37, who signed a one-year, $10-million deal last offseason and more than earned it by going 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA, is high on the Yankees' list of priorities. The questions surrounding Kuroda mainly have to do with whether he wants to pitch another season in the majors or end his career in his native Japan.
On MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM Friday, pitching coach Larry Rothschild said, "I think there's a high-percentage chance that if he plays in the States, he plays with the Yankees. I think he enjoyed the experience . . . I know he enjoyed New York and I think if he's going to play in the States, we're going to have a pretty good shot at bringing him back."
The Yankees would like Soriano back, but not at the price they believe he and his agent, Scott Boras, will be seeking. Earlier in the week, Soriano opted out of his three-year, $35-million deal, which had one year and $14 million remaining. Soriano, who went 42-for-46 in save chances in 2012, is looking for a closer's job -- something the Yankees can't guarantee him, as Mariano Rivera hasn't given them a decision on 2013 -- and, even more significant, closer's money, which the Yankees aren't interested in paying him. If he doesn't get what he's looking for, the Yankees are willing to explore a two-year deal.
There's a long-shot chance of Swisher, 31, accepting the qualifying offer, though this might be the rightfielder's last chance at a big contract, the purpose behind his signing with agent Dan Lozano two offseasons ago.
Notes & quotes: Rothschild discussed several other topics on Sirius. He said he believes Andy Pettitte will return next season and that "the [competitive] fires are still there." But he added he doesn't know Pettitte's plans . . . Of Rivera, Rothschild said: "I would bet anything that he's coming back, but I have not talked to him. I've kind of left him on his own because I think it's a decision he has to make." . . . He said he's not "counting" on any contributions from Michael Pineda (shoulder surgery) in 2013: "I think you're better off just approaching it that he's not going to be back next year. And if things go right -- and he certainly could come back and be able to pitch, I wouldn't doubt that at all -- but for us to count on him, I think, would be a mistake."