(Can't say I blame the guy for rejecting. Courtesy of Getty Images)
As expected, Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher were among the group of all 9 players who rejected the qualifying offers made by their respective teams. Slightly less expected, but only slightly, was Hiroki Kuroda also being a part of that group to reject his qualifying offer, making it open season for all teams interested in his services to make him an offer. There were reasons to believe that Kuroda could possibly accept the qualifying offer to come back to New York next season - he was reported to have enjoyed his time in New York and to be looking for another 1-year deal- but now the Yankees will have to re-focus their efforts to get a deal done. Kuroda is the most important piece for the Yankees to bring back to solidify next year's starting rotation. What needs to be done to make sure that happens?
Truthfully, not much. There's no reason for the Yankees or anybody to panic after Kuroda rejected the qualifying offer. Yeah, $13.3 mil would have been a solid pay raise from the 10 he made this past season, but there is clearly an opportunity for Kuroda to earn more than that and there are teams out there who would be willing to pay more.The Dodgers have been connected, and there were reports on Friday that the Fraud Sawx have reached out to Kuroda as well.
But the Yankees are still the Major League team in the driver's seat when it comes to signing Kuroda. He has already stated that it's either the Yankees or the Hiroshima Carp for him next season, so even if LA or Bahhston try to add an extra year into a deal at $15-16 million per year, that probably won't help their cause in changing Kuroda's mind about what he wants to do. The season he had this year was worth more than the qualifying amount, the Yankees know that now, and they have to re-engage his agent and come to an agreement on the dollar amount.
If Kuroda ultimately decides in his heart that he wants to go back to Japan, then there's nothing the Yankees can do about that and at least they'll get a third compensatory draft pick (Editor's Note: As a commenter pointed out, the Yankees would not get that pick unless Kuroda signed with another MLB team. My bad). But both sides are on the same page with what they want, and right now there's no reason to worry about any other team swooping in.