The qualifying offer for the 2014 season has been set at $14.1 million; a $800,000 raise from 2013's $13.3 million. The Yankees have three players they could potentially present a qualifying offer to: Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, and Phil Hughes. What would it mean to present each of them with a qualifying offer?
With 1 Win Above Replacement equalling to about $4.5 million in value, a $14.1 million qualifying offer would have to bring more than three WAR back to just get what you pay for.
A qualifying offer for Hiroki Kuroda would actually be a pay decrease after making $15 million in 2013. In the last two seasons with the Yankees he has accumulated nearly identical 3.7 and 3.8 WAR in 2012 and 2013, respectively, so he's definitely been worth a contract of $14.1 million. According to Fangraphs' dollar value, he's been calculated to have been worth $16.7 million in 2012 and $19.1 million in 2013. Based on those estimates, the Yankees have yet to overpay Kuroda, so it would make perfect sense to offer him a $14.1 million contract.
The only problem is that it's hard to say if he'd accept such an offer. He got a raise in 2013 after a great 2012 and he had a great 2013, so he could expect a raise in 2014 as well, so he'd actually be taking a pay cut. That said, with Kuroda's second half plunge, he could accept it as his natural value now that he's another year older. The best bet is to make him the offer and if he declines, re-sign him to a slightly more lucrative contract or collect a draft pick in return.
Curtis Granderson had a very difficult season in a walk year. He only played in 61 games, yet managed to accumulate 1.4 WAR in that time. In the last three seasons, his WAR has been all over; 3.5 in 2010, 6.7 in 2011, 2.3 in 2012. He made $5.5 million, $8.2 million, and $10 million in those seasons and was worth over $14 million, $29.9 million, and $10.1 million in those years, so he hasn't been an overpay yet.
it's not definitive as to whether or not he would be worth a $14.1 million contract or that he would be able to reach a three WAR season, but it could be worth a shot. At 33 and capable of playing a good center field, Granderson was looking at a good free agent contract before his disastrous season. Take the qualifying offer would be a pay decrease from the $15 million he made in 2013, but by taking it he would guarantee a high-paying 2014 season and give him a chance to prove that deserves a big contract in 2015.
Giving Hughes a qualifying offer would present the right-hander with an immediate pay increase of about 50%. He has never breached the three WAR mark, though he has come close (2.4 in 2009, 2.5 in 2010, 2.3 in 2012). Fangraphs says he has never been worth over $10.9 million in any season of his career, so a $14.1 million contract would be an overpay of $3.2 million from his career best year. In 2013, he was worth only $6.7 million, a $7.4 million overpay.
If the Yankees present Hughes with a qualifying offer, he's going to accept it because he can make a lot of money while hoping to rebound after his terrible 2013 season. They should probably just let him go so he can become someone else's problem for once.
It would seem that giving out qualifying offers is a win-win for when it comes to Kuroda and Granderson, but Hughes could end up being a disaster. The worst that can happen with Kuroda and Granderson is that they decline and the Yankees get extra draft picks in the draft, with Hughes they could be stuck with a pitcher who they overpaid by 50% or even more if he continues to decline in 2014. The Yankees' 2014 budget can't handle a contract like that for someone like this. Just let him go.