It's here at last! The MLS Players Union released the semi-annual player salary reports (check it out!) and fans of the league and of Toronto FC will be chomping at the bit to discuss and dissect every player's price and value. With the release of the list comes the first glimpse at how Kevin Payne and Ryan Nelsen have managed Toronto FC's finances in their first season, and could set the precedent for the range we can expect from management in the coming seasons.
The list is broken up between two columns, Base Salary and Guaranteed Compensation. While the Base Salary is typically lower, it is not the number that hits against the salary cap - that would be the Guaranteed Compensation column. The Base Salary excludes other contractual factors like transfer fees and bonuses, so we'll be paying attention to the second column, since those numbers make up Toronto's salary cap.
Now, on to the numbers, shall we?
We'll start from the back, in between the posts, with Toronto's goalkeepers. Traditionally, Toronto FC has employed strong goalkeepers and this year is no exception. Stefan Frei and Joe Bendik are fighting it out for a starting spot while TFC Academy graduate Quillan Roberts learns from the duo.
This season, Stefan Frei received a $25,000 raise; he now sits at $200,000 for 2013. However, Bendik has been the starter for much of the 2013 season, and at $46,500, he's doing so at a fraction of the cost. It's a bit low, considering his performances, but during his time in Portland, he played second fiddle for both Troy Perkins and Donovan Ricketts, and is enjoying his breakout season with Toronto FC. If Bendik can keep up his form and keep the starting spot, he'll see an increase next season. Roberts sits at the same figure as Bendik - $46,500.
Moving into the defence, Toronto picked up four new defenders over the offseason, and their price tags are much more reasonable than the likes of Richard Eckersley ($310,000) and Darren O'Dea ($456,250), who were signed under the previous regime. Starting centre back Gale Agbossoumonde ($53,166) and fullback Ryan Richter ($35,125) are great value, while Danny Califf ($165,000) and Darel Russell ($109,874) are more in line with standard MLS defender's salaries.
Logan Emory ($48,400) and Doneil Henry ($62,083) are low-priced players who can perform sufficiently when needed, while Ashtone Morgan picked up a raise of his own, going from $56,000 to $72,000 in 2013.
Toronto's back line may be somewhat pricey, in comparison with other defensive foursomes across the league, but the club has only conceded 13 goals this season, when, this time last year, they had conceded 21. There's value in spending in defence and with this new crop of defenders, Toronto FC may have found cheap, long-term defensive stalwarts.
The salary cap has been purged with the absences of two Designated Players in Julian de Guzman and Torsten Frings, and Toronto FC's Young DP signing, Matias Laba, hits $200,000 against the salary cap, since he is under 24 years old. This gives Toronto FC a lot of breathing room in the salary cap for some of their new midfielders, and the club has filled that room with some worthy signings.
Perhaps the best value-for-price player is Jonathan Osorio; the 20-year-old has netted twice so far, and has been very effective coming off the bench. At $46,500, he is one of the better signings for Toronto FC. His fellow Canadian midfielder, Kyle Bekker, is making a touch more, at $67,750, which falls below the two SuperDraft picks above him: Carlos Alvarez is making $81,500 with Chivas USA and Andrew Farrell is priced at a whopping $161,000!
Another great value for Toronto FC is Jeremy Hall. At $90,000, Hall is performing very well in central midfield and is a touch cheaper than some other midfielders around the league, such as Collen Warner ($137,500) for Montreal. Last year Hall's salary came in at $149,000, so that's a very sensible renegotiation.
British duo John Bostock ($99,996) and Hogan Ephraim ($180,000) are some of the more expensive signings, while Reggie Lambe picked up a small raise and now sits at $70,000. Luis Silva picked up a big raise, going from $79,000 to $105,400. As for good old Terry Dunfield? He sits at $120,000, a $34,000 raise for the hard working Canuck.
Now to the forwards, the number everyone has been waiting for: just how much is Robert Earnshaw making?
Well, with five goals to his name, Earnshaw is making $155,150. That's roughly $30,000 per goal, folks! Earnshaw is actually one of the cheaper starting forwards in the league. In the top scoring ranks, Earnshaw sits behind three players; Claudio Bieler ($200,000), Mike Magee ($191,667) and Jack McInerney ($189,667). So, not too bad, all things considered!
The rest of Toronto's forward line consists of Justin Braun ($114,700), Andrew Wiedeman (65,000), Ashton Bennet ($46,500), Taylor Morgan ($35,125) and draft pick Emery Welshman ($46,500). Finally, there's Danny Koevermans, Toronto's only Designated Player, who makes almost $1.7 million, though about one-fifth of that will go against the salary cap.
So those are the numbers. If you're still with me here, you're awesome. There are many figures and it gets a little complicated, but if there's one thing that these numbers tell us, it is this: Kevin Payne and Ryan Nelsen's signings are much cheaper and much more effective than the signings conducted by both Aron Winter and Mo Johnston. These players are in line with MLS standards and are not being over-payed for their performance levels.
There was a lot of allocation money sent Toronto's way during the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, but it doesn't look like Toronto is using much of it to buy down the salaries on the current roster. The salary cap is $2.95 million, and with all these figures combined, Toronto FC's players come in at almost $3.37 million. However, only the first 20 spots on the roster count against the salary cap. Subtracting players outside of this first 20 (which goes in order of price down), Toronto's salary cap hit is just above $3 million. Toronto does have to pay down the salary of Darren O'Dea via allocation, which would bring the club underneath the cap entirely.
So, any allocation money Toronto FC did make through the SuperDraft will most likely be available in the summer for potential signings. However, Toronto FC is cutting it a bit close, so there may be some departures to accompany any new players; with 28 rosters spots filled out of the 30 spots allowed, expect plenty of changes for Toronto FC come July.
There you have it. What do you think? Is Earnshaw worth the money? Who's making too much? Who's making too little? Leave a comment below, share your thoughts, have at it, Toronto FC fans.
The full list can be found here: MLS 2013 Player Salaries