Twelve qualifying offers were handed out this off-season to impact players on their way to free agency. With this week’s signing of James Shields by the Padres, all twelve now have their homes for the foreseeable future. Why is this significant? Players that are extended qualifying offers have a draft pick attached to them. If a qualifying offer is not accepted, the team that gives the qualifying offer gains a compensation pick from the team that signs the player. So although draft picks cannot be traded, the first round and compensation round are always fluctuating during free agency.
For the record, a player has never taken a qualifying offer. This off-season, the New York Yankees were very cautious around their draft picks, something that is usually thrown out the window. They extended a qualifying offer to David Robertson and gained a draft pick when he went to the Chicago White Sox. Additionally, none of the free agents they signed had a draft pick tied to them. Because of this, for the first time since 1978 the Yankees have two of the top 30 picks in the draft.
The Yankees began the off-season with only a 19th overall pick, based on the final 2014 team standings. The Mets, Blue Jays, and Padres all lost draft picks with free agent signings, moving the Yankees up to 16th overall. They haven’t had a draft pick this high since 1993. The Yankees minor league squads are all starting to produce players with futures in the Bronx. Having two of the top thirty picks will only increase that sentiment.
The Yankees are taking some hits from New York media and fans that wanted to see them grab some of the biggest names in the sport, but Brian Cashman and the Yankees are playing for a healthy future that, yes, will eventually get them under the luxury tax. When the team stops being taxed 50% for every dollar over the $189 million dollar budget, they will start spending again.
That’s not to say the team is being cheap by any means. The payroll will be over $200 million again this year. Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and Alex Rodriguez will all have $20+ million annual contracts finish within the next three years, giving the Yankees ample room to improve the team.
The Yankees need a lot of parts to come together perfectly to really compete for the World Series this year. However, unlike the last decade, the Yankees are taking care of the minor league talent to ensure great talent can step in as the last of the bloated contracts finish out their days. The Yankees will continue their twenty-two year streak of finishing over .500 this year and for many years to come.
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