Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Post-2008 MLS Free Agents

How could I possibly have any idea who they might be, when the league keeps such information tightly guarded? Easy. We know that MLS rookies receive 4-year contracts. So you have to look at the players who came into the league in 2005 (Superdraft link, Supplemental draft link). The most obvious one is Bobby Boswell, whose notable refusal to sign a contract extension with DC was probably a factor in his being traded. He currently makes the minimum salary of $33,000, so even without the public reports it would be obvious that he was still on his original deal.

I believe the first year complete MLS salary info was available was 2006. By looking at those salaries and comparing them to now (2008 salaries pdf), we can make some educated guesses. 2005 draftees/rookies who are still making the minimum or near it include Boswell, Kenny Cutler, Kevin Goldthwaite, Jeff Larentowicz, Aaron Pitchkolan, James Riley, Troy Roberts, Scott Sealy, Abe Thompson, and Chris Wondolowski. Several of those are very likely to be free agents and possibly leave at the end of the year, although who knows how many of them would actually be in demand. Sealy could catch on in England due to his nationality. I doubt many of those guys will actually leave, though.

What about other players? Well, another hint is that according to the league's collective bargaing agreement, the annual salary increase for a senior roster player making less than $60,000 is 5 percent. So for example, when you look at Sealy's 2006 salary ($31,500), multiplying it twice by 1.05 gets you $34728.75, the exact salary he's listed at for this year. So you can tell that no new deal has been made. So when I see that Paulo Nagamura's salary went from $85,000 to $93,712.50, that means nothing has changed in his deal in the past 2 years which means he's likely on the same deal since his 2005 debut and likely to be a free agent after this season. Unless he signed a new deal before 2006. You never know with MLS.

Now there are several other 2005 rookies whose salaries are close to what the annual increase would give them. What does that mean? A bonus, maybe? And what about guys who were Generation Adidas, when they leave that status? Do they get a new deal then? Then there's situations like Pat Noonan where the Revs didn't pick up the option on his contract. Can't predict that. So while there's so much we don't know about the process, I hope that this provides a little insight.

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