- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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Of the three, only Kuroda is likely to accept the $13.3 million offer stipulated by the new collective bargaining agreement adopted by the players and the league last year. Soriano and Swisher are seeking long-term deals.
On Wednesday, Soriano notified the Yankees he would opt out of the final year of the three-year, $35 million contract he signed before the 2011 season, which would have paid him $14 million for 2013. Instead, he will take a $1.5 million buyout from the club and seek to parlay his outstanding 2012 season, in which he converted 42 of 46 save opportunities while substituting for Mariano Rivera, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on May 3.
According to the Yankees, Soriano and his agent, Scott Boras, are seeking a closer's job and a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $60 million, which would make him along with Rivera the highest paid relief pitcher in the game. Rivera, who was paid $15 million for 2012, is also a free agent.
Although Rivera recently told the Yankees he was considering retirement -- he will turn 43 this month -- the team believes there is a good chance he will return in 2013 and reassume his closing duties, making Soriano a luxury the club could not afford. Neither Yankees GM Brian Cashman nor Rivera's agent, Fern Cuza, returned calls seeking comment Friday afternoon.
Earlier in the season, Swisher, who made $10.25 million last season, was said to be seeking "a Jayson Werth contract," referring to the outfielder who was given a seven-year, $126 million deal by the Washington Nationals in 2010.
Swisher batted .272 with 24 home runs and 93 RBIs for the Yankees in 2012, but like many of the team's regulars, he had a horrendous postseason, with five hits in 30 at-bats and 10 strikeouts in eight playoff games.
A Yankees team source told ESPNNewYork.com earlier in the week that Swisher did not fit into the team's plans going forward because of owner Hal Steinbrenner's decree that the payroll must be slashed to $189 million by 2014.
Under the terms of the new CBA, a team receives a compensatory "sandwich" draft pick, between the first and second rounds of the amateur draft, for every one of its free agents who rejects a qualifying offer. Assuming Soriano and Swisher sign with other clubs, the Yankees are in line to receive at least two picks, and maybe three, if Kuroda decides to go elsewhere.
Among the Yankees free agents who did not receive qualifying offers are pitcher Andy Pettitte, catcher Russell Martin, infielder Eric Chavez and outfielders Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki and Andruw Jones. All played for much less than $13.3 million in 2012. The Yankees are expected to make an offer to Pettitte, who earned $2.5 million last year, and to Martin, with whom they were discussing a multiyear contract worth about $6 million a year last spring.