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Cashman limited until decision on qualifying offers

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The official word will scroll across Brian Cashman's phone at some point Friday, but even the Yankees' general manager is not holding his breath for responses to his free-agent qualifying offers.

"I'll be on a plane," Cashman said. "But I've got Internet."

By 5 p.m. ET Friday, with Cashman at 30,000 feet, potential free agents Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda must decide whether they will accept their one-year, $13.3-million offers to remain with the Yankees. It is almost certain that Soriano and Swisher will decline, making them free agents. And given the money that Kuroda could command as an free agent, there's a good chance that he will decline as well.

But until that is official, Cashman is limited in other moves that he can make. With a relatively restricted budget to begin with and $40 million worth of outstanding offers, the GM cannot be aggressive on the open market until he is sure at least two of those players will decline their offers.

"It's helpful information, no doubt about it," Cashman said Thursday at the General Managers Meetings. "We'll learn a lot after [Friday], because I've got a lot of money tied up currently that's binding. We'll get some clarity on that at some point [Friday]."

Though players and agents have been quiet about qualifying offers throughout these three-day meetings, high-profile agent Scott Boras said that he would be shocked if many players accept.

"Most qualifying offers are really for players of the highest value," Boras said. "When teams make them, they're acknowledging the value and other teams know that as well. I don't anticipate many players accepting single-year contracts that are in that arena."

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can make one-year qualifying offers at the average of the previous season's top 125 salaries -- this year's number is $13.3 million -- to any impending free agent. If the player declines the one-year deal, he can still re-sign with his old team at a different price.

Should a player reject a qualifying offer and sign elsewhere, his former team will receive a compensation Draft pick between the first and second rounds, determined by reverse order of winning percentage. The system replaces MLB's old practice of classifying free agents as Type A and Type B, and determining compensation through those labels.

For players such as Swisher and Soriano, who are seeking rich multi-year deals, accepting a qualifying offer is unlikely. For someone such as Kuroda, who is said to prefer a one-year deal, it is at least a possibility.

Either way, Cashman will know by Friday whether he has an extra $40 million to spend.

"It will certainly dictate and affect how we move forward, one way or the other," Cashman said.

In previous years, answers to such offers might not have been an issue -- at least not to the extent that they are now. But over the past few seasons the Yankees have redoubled their efforts to limit payroll, with ownership insisting that it wants to stay beneath MLB's $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014.

Considering the club is already in danger of bumping up against that number, every million matters.

"Every year you're kind of given your budgets, your challenges, your needs," Cashman said. "Your [farm] system provides answers sometimes in those years, sometimes it doesn't. The marketplace provides an abundance of answers to those options. You always have your restrictions, whether it's in terms of what ownership provides, what the Basic Agreement allows, the opportunities available to you.

"They might be new challenges, new differences to deal with. But all of them are problems that are solvable."