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Seitz, Fred available in MLS re-entry draft

Philadelphia Union midfielder Fred and goalkeeper Chris Seitz will be available to other Major League Soccer clubs in the league’s first ever re-entry draft on Dec. 8.

The league office today released a list of 35 players available in the draft, which is the MLS version of free agency. Their inclusion on the list means either their contracts expired and their teams didn’t offer comparable salaries, or their teams didn’t pick up option years at comparable salaries.  (For a full explanation of the two-stage re-entry draft, click here.)

Fred was out of contract after making $282,000 in 2010 and was no surprise to be on the list because his production didn’t match his salary, despite a good late stretch of play. Of the 35 available players, he is one of just three out of contract. The rest had their options declined.

Seitz was a surprise because the team chose to make him their 11th protected player in last week’s expansion draft. Salary issues likely made the difference.

Next year, Seitz’s salary will count against his team’s salary cap — or budget, as MLS Commissioner Don Garber is now calling it — for the first time, because he graduated Generation Adidas this year. Generation Adidas players are amateur players who sign with the league and have their salaries exempt from the salary budget constraints in their first seasons. Seitz made $135,000 in 2010, so now the Union have to make room in their salary budget for his wages. Considering Seitz was benched late in the season and outplayed by Brad Knighton down the stretch, it makes sense that the Union want to reexamine Seitz’s salary.

How the draft works

The re-entry draft works in two stages.

Other teams will get first crack at Seitz and Fred on Wednesday in the first stage, but if drafting either at that time, the team must make a salary offer comparable to what the player made in 2010 or what their option year’s salary would have been for 2011. The Union can’t draft their own players at this point.

Undrafted players then move on to the draft’s second stage, set for Dec. 15. That stage would just be for the player’s rights, but the team and player would still have to negotiate a contract. A team can draft its own player at that point and then negotiate a new contract.

Any player who makes it through both rounds could join any team on a first come, first serve basis.

Soccer America’s article on the re-entry draft has a good explanation of how this process works.

“If Kansas City is willing to pay me 5 percent more than my last contract, they retain my rights,” Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad explained to Soccer America. “If I go into the Re-Entry Draft and a team picks me in Stage 1, they would have to offer me that 5 percent more. If I didn’t get picked in the first round, I would go through the Re-Entry Draft again [Stage 2] and that would be just for my rights. Before then me and my representation would be talking with teams who maybe had the first few picks in the draft to see if they have any interest, and try to create a good situation for both parties.”

So it’s possible that Fred and Seitz, because of their relatively high salaries, could pass through the draft’s first stage untouched and then return to the Union in the second stage at lower salaries.

Top players available in the draft

The Union will have the third pick in the draft. Here are some of the players available to them.

  • Jimmy Conrad, center back

The veteran and former U.S. international has anchored Kansas City’s back line for years, but a salary over $200,000 and his position make him an unlikely target for the Union, who have three good center backs on their roster.

  • Khari Stephenson, midfielder

Stephenson played well for San Jose after signing at mid-season before being marginalized come playoff time. The Jamaican had a base salary of 151,500 and could be attractive, considering the Union have a definite need for a player who can better link the attack to the their forwards.

  • Dario Sala, goalkeeper

Sala is a good goalkeeper who was displaced in Dallas by Kevin Hartman, who went on to have the best season of any goalkeeper in MLS. His $160,000 base salary might be more than he’s worth. He’s 36 years old, but that’s not ancient in goalie years.

  • Cory Gibbs, defender

Gibbs started 25 games for New England this year and can play left back and center back. He has a base salary of $121,000. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s the guy who was red-carded after taking out Union midfielder Eduardo Coudet with a hard tackle in August that left Coudet sidelined for weeks. His versatility may put him in demand.

  • Guillermo Barros Schelotto, attacking midfielder

Columbus decided to let the Argentine icon go, even though he was willing to take a pay cut. At 37, he has slowed significantly, but he still has the vision and ball skills to contribute. He had a base salary of $141,000 in 2010 but made more than $240,000 overall.

  • Juan Pablo Angel, striker

Angel still has it, but it just isn’t as good as it used to be. The Red Bulls cut him loose after signing Thierry Henry, but guess which one of them was healthy for the playoffs. Don’t expect the Union — or anyone — to touch his $1.6 million-plus salary though. He could go in the second stage.

10 Comments

  1. Dan, don’t forget the all-important time between the drafts. If Seitz is not taken in the first draft, the Union get 5 days to re-negotiate his contract before he goes through the second draft. Anyone drafting him in the first draft would be doing so at his 135K salary, which seems unlikely, though possible. If Seitz is not re-signed in between the drafts for significantly less money after seeing that no one will pick him at 135K, I will be surprised.

  2. Playing devil’s advocate here, but mught it make sense to make a run at Jimmy Conrad. I get that his salary is high, but still less than Fred’s and our defense could certainly use the upgrade. Conrad’s a good community & media guy too. Sign him, and we could push MOF outside in place of Harvey, potentially providing much better cover for whomever winds up between the sticks.

  3. Ummm… Dan, Seitz graduated from Generation Addidas at the end of 2009 when Union got him from Salt Lake. And Garber and MLS has always referred to what us normal ppl call salary “cap” a budget.

    But we know your new to covering MLS, so we’ll give you a pass.

    As for the draft, I also think Union should make a run for Conrad if DC and Chivas pass. Preston Burpo is another option. What about Adrian Serioux?

    • Roger, Seitz was rumored to have graduated from Generation Adidas in 2009, but then announced again as a graduate this year. Lots of speculation about how and why, but he supposedly was a GA player this past year. Transparency is not an MLS trait.

      Many bloggers and posters are making a big deal out of the language switch from salray cap to salary budget. We arent the only ones.

      Burpo hasnt showed that he has come back off a horrific injury to start.

      Serioux cant hold down a starting spot on what was one of the worst defenses in league last year, even with a legend in net.

      And I will be shocked if Conrad, even at his substantial salary, makes it to us at #3.

      • Even were Conrad to be available at #3, I don’t see why the Union would snag him especially after protecting their starting back line in the expansion draft. I think we need depth on D, but Jimmy C. isn’t a bench guy, nor do I think any of Harvey/Orozco-Fiscal/Califf/Williams gets relegated to the bench either.

      • Seitz was still GA during the 2010 season. The Union announced his graduation here: http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/news/2010/11/mwanga-retain-ga-status

        (Roger just wants to bust my balls, Tim. 😉 He and I have been trading emails since about the day MLS — and soccer — landed on my radar.)

        Serioux could be interesting.

        The thing with Conrad is that the Union already have 25% of their salary budget tied up in 3 center backs. Adding another at $200-plus might be a non-starter even if they do trade Gonzalez, unless the Orozco loan has already collapsed and he’s not coming back. Like Eli said though, Conrad would be a great pickup if not for existing Union personnel issues, so who knows what moves will be made?

  4. What are all these rules? And isn’t this America? What happened to the free market? It’s time to loosen this stuff up. These guys are making living wages when they have a unique skill.

  5. Realistically speaking, what do you guys think is the possibility of Union splashing the cash for Angel? I guess that also raises the question about what the financial situation is for the Union. There were those rumors the other day that Mondragon was coming to the Union and seeing how he is best friends with Angel it made my mind dream of signing both. Perhaps renegotiating Seitz’s contract and losing Fred/renegotiating his contract is a sign of a big signing soon?

  6. Agreed AD, Califf and Orozco Fiscal finally proved that they work well together at the end of the year. No way they mess that up.

    Would still love to have Jimmy Conrad in town though. If you’ve ever read any of his articles for Soccernet you can tell he’s a smart, outspoken character who is good for both MLS and US soccer.

    Not the right fit for the Union though

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