The qualifying offer for the 2015-2016 offseason has been set at approximately $15.8 million. A team can choose to give a qualifying offer to any of its players who are set to hit free agency. If the player accepts, then they're locked into a one-year contract with that team for that amount of money. If the player signs with another team, then the former team gets a compensatory selection at the end of the first round of the MLB Draft, which is what happened when the Yankees offered David Robertson the qualifying offer last offseason, and he signed with the White Sox instead. If a team signs a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer, then that team loses their first available pick in the draft. The Yankees only have a handful of players who are set to become free agents and it's highly unlikely that they will give out any qualifying offers, but what other teams decide to do could impact the Yankees' offseason moves.
Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Chris Capuano are the Yankees only pending free agents and it's highly unlikely that any of them receive a qualifying offer. After being traded for Kelly Johnson in 2014, the Yankees brought Drew back last season on a one-year deal worth $5 million. There was some hope that his terrible 2014 season was due to the fact that he missed spring training and didn't sign with the Red Sox until a few weeks into the season, but his 2015 season wasn't a great deal better. He finished the season batting just .201/.271/.381 with 76 wRC+. Drew managed to hold onto the Yankees' starting second base job until the end of the season, when he missed time with a vestibular concussion. Even if the Yankees did want to negotiate a deal to bring Drew back next year, he certainly didn't have a season that would justify a contract worth fifteen million dollars.
The Yankees also picked Young up in 2014 after the Mets cut him, and ended up bringing him back in 2015 on a one-year contract worth $2.5 million. He did a decent job serving as the Yankees' backup outfielder, particularly when it came to hitting against lefty pitchers, and he finished the season batting .252/.320/.453. It's more likely that the Yankees would negotiate a new deal with Young than it is with Drew, but it's doubtful that it would be in the double digits, and the team would be better off letting him walk than getting locked into a deal for that much money. This also applies to Capuano, who didn't even make the Yankees' postseason roster.
The only other Yankee who has the potential to become a free agent is Brendan Ryan. He has a $2 million club option in 2016, but if the Yankees decline the option, then he has a $1 million player option. Ryan spent most of spring training injured, and missed the first few weeks of the season on the disabled list. When healthy, he has been a decent backup infielder, at least with his glove, though he only hit .229/.275/.333 in 103 plate appearances. It's likely that the Yankees will pick up his option since it's unclear what they'll do with second base, and they would have no backup infielder without him.
If the Yankees don't bring back Drew, Young or Ryan, they might turn to the free agent market to fill some of those spots, and they might look to shore up the rotation and bullpen as well. Historically, players who receive qualifying offers don't accept them, so some of the top free agents who are expected to get a qualifying offer, like Jordan Zimmermann and Zack Greinke, would cost a team a draft pick (assuming they don't re-sign with their current clubs). If the Yankees are concerned about preserving their draft picks, they should probably pick and choose among the players who likely won't get a qualifying offer. Those players include the likes of: Bartolo Colon, Shawn Kelley, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Morrow, Mike Pelfrey, Torii Hunter and Alex Rios. On the plus side, any player that was traded during the year isn't eligible for a qualifying offer, so some of the better players, such as David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto, can all be signed without costing a draft pick.
Would you like to see the Yankees bring back Drew, Young or Ryan? Which free agents should they pursue and should they be worried about preserving their draft picks?