Thursday, November 25, 2010

Now the focus shifts over to the reentry draft

After all the talk of Vancouver being much better organized in management terms than Toronto FC, it's worth noting that the Whitecaps appear to have adopted Mo Johnston's strategy where the expansion draft is concerned by selecting a series of relatively high profile players such as Sanna Nyassi, Alan Gordon, Alejandro Moreno and O'Brian White and then moving them on quickly for allocation money, international roster spots or draft picks. It will be interesting to see what unfolds where Joe Cannon and Atiba Harris are concerned over the next few days. It remains to be seen if Vancouver will do a better job of making use of their newly acquired assets than Mo Johnston did but the changes that have been made to the domestic roster regulations should make life a lot easier for them.

Now that the expansion draft is out of the way the focus now shifts to the first ever reentry draft based on the terms of the new CBA between the league and the Players' Union. The players who are eligible for the first stage on Dec 8th  are (i) those at least 23 years old who have a minimum of three years' MLS experience whose options were not picked up at the agreed option salary rate, (ii) players who are at least 25 years old with four years' experience who are out of contract and have not been made a bona fide offer of a new contract at their 2010 salary level, (iii) players who are at least 30 years old with eight years' experience who are out of contract and have not been made a bona fide offer at a minimum level of 105% of 2010 salary. If players are not happy with the terms offered by their existing team they enter a draft process in which a new team can draft them at either their option salary rate if they are in category (i) or at 100% or 105% of their 2010 salary if categories (ii) and (iii) are applicable.

Once the first stage is complete players can still negotiate to try to reach a new deal with their old team. Should that fail there is then a second stage on Dec 15th when players can be drafted by a new club and made an offer at a lower rate than their old salary, the new club will then hold the right of first refusal to the player's services if this offer is declined. After that players who have not been selected at either stage are free to negotiate with any MLS team. One of the key gains claimed by the Players Union negotiators after the new CBA deal was reached was that the reentry draft should eliminate the kind of contract limbo faced by Dan van den Bergh last season due to the actions of FC Dallas. 

The prime candidates for the reentry draft where TFC are concerned will obviously be the players who were neither waived (i.e. not Gala, Saric, Hscanovics, Mista, Usanov) nor left unprotected (i.e. not Attakora, Cann, Conway, De Rosario, Frei, Gargan, Gomez, Harden, LaBrocca, Peterson, Santos), were not selected in the expansion draft (White), are not young players either on close to the league minimum (Nane, Sanyang, Kocic), homegrown player deals (Henry, Lindsay), or teenaged Generation Adidas graduates (Ibrahim) or high profile older players who have played almost their entire career over in Europe (de Guzman), so that would leave Chad Barrett and Nick Garcia, basically:

Chad Barrett: At 25 years of age and with 6 years of experience Chad Barrett appears to fit category (i) given he signed a four-year deal back in 2008 so will now probably be entering into the first of two league held option seasons if the standard two plus two MLS contract with high profile players applies in his case. Given Earl Cochrane has stated that TFC want him back and were taking a calculated risk by leaving him unprotected, odds on his option will be picked up even at the somewhat inflated rate of $205k

Nick Garcia: At 31 years of age and with 11 years of experience Nick Garcia appears to fit either category (i) or (iii). Given he received what was described as a "multi-year" deal in January 2009 he will probably be entering an option year at this point. It seems unlikely that Mo Johnston has left any unwelcome contract clauses in that regard given the rumour amongst well-connected fans has been that San Jose have been paying most of his salary, since the Gerba/Garcia trade was made during the 2009 season. It's possible then that his non-appearance on the waiver draft list is because he fits category (i) and could not be waived yesterday. If so he will soon be leaving BMO Field. If category (iii) applies, there is clearly absolutely no way he is getting back at 105% of $190k so a reduced offer would have to be involved. Although Nick Garcia is very much the man TFC fans love to hate, some coaches and GMs could conceivably still see him as an option worth exploring if he agrees to sign a new contract on John Conway type money ($60k), but it seems far fetched that an interim GM would make that kind of move in TFC's case right now. Odds on Nick Garcia will feature during both stages of the reentry draft, with the second stage being his best bet where finding a new team is concerned.

From a Vancouver standpoint the reentry draft process is a complete unknown at this point given it is the first to ever be held. With a substantial amount of allocation money available the Whitecaps and Timbers are potentially in a strong position to sign talented players that other MLS teams are trying to force into reduced terms to squeeze them in under their salary cap. It will be interesting to see if there is much in the way of player movement when this process gets underway next month or whether as often happens with waiver drafts there is only a low level of activity.


  1. So could the Timbers and Caps potentially get into a bidding war over a player in this draft? If I understand this properly, they could both offer contracts to a player who isn't satisfied with their current contract, and then keep one-upping each other until the player accepts. This is going to be a very unusual draft. And the league gets weirder...

  2. Don't think it works like that. In the first stage on Dec 8th it's basically like the Superdraft in that clubs take turns to select players, who they then sign under the terms of their contract option or at on or slightly more than their 2010 salary level. In the second stage on Dec 15th teams are getting the chance to get the MLS rights to a player in exchange for making a contract offer, which the player may decide to decline. In both stages there is no fixed number of rounds involved unlike the superdraft and the process keeps going until every team has decided to stop selecting any more players.