Rafael Soriano will decline the Yankees' qualifying offer, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The move ensures that New York will receive a compensatory draft pick for Soriano should he sign elsewhere. Soriano was one of nine players who received qualifying offers from their teams, and the nine have until tomorrow to accept or decline the one-year, $13.3MM offers.
It was no surprise that Soriano declined the offer, as the Scott Boras client already opted out of the final year of his Yankees contract last week, leaving $14MM on the table in search of a multiyear contract with a team that could guarantee him the full-time closer's job.
It's hard to see how the Yankees could necessarily bring back Soriano given his desire to close and the fact that Mariano Rivera has said he will return in 2013. Rivera's health status is questionable after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL, though since Rivera will obviously have priority in closing games in New York, Soriano would find himself as a set-up man again unless Rivera were to suffer another injury. There's also the possibility that the Yankees could re-sign Soriano to close and let Rivera go as a free agent, though that move would be hard to fathom given Rivera's legendary status with the team.