It was the asterisk next to Toronto FC's string of moves in December: in order to make them possible someone, or multiple someones, would have to move out in order to make space. It appears the first such move has been made, with summer acquisition Ahmed Kantari on his way out.
Reports from Kristian Jack of TSN were confirmed by Kurt Larson of the Toronto Sun that the club has waived the defender. The move frees up space both for the moves that the club has already made, and those that they will be making soon.
It is presumed that Toronto FC will use their buyout on Kantari, meaning he would come off the books for the upcoming MLS season. Each team are allowed one such move each year with the balance of the contract being paid to the player.
In Kantari's case, this means Toronto FC would be rid of the $345,000 in guaranteed compensation that he was making. This makes a lot of sense, especially considering the club has two centre backs, Damien Perquis and Drew Moor, who both likely make over $300,000.
Kantari has been rumoured to be on the outs for the majority of the offseason after a disappointing stay with Toronto FC. However, with a third of the winter transfer window gone it seemed possible that the club would hold onto the defender in case the Perquis exit rumours had any truth to them.
The 30-year-old Kantari was acquired by the club in July in the hopes that he would help to fix a Toronto defence that had been broken for most of the season. However in the 12 games that he played Kantari would only become part of the problem and would end up losing his starting spot to Josh Williams and Perquis.
It was a spot he would only gain back when Perquis went down to injury near the end of the season, but Kantari did little to earn back his place with three poor performances against the Columbus Crew, and Montreal Impact. While it will be Williams who will be remembered for slipping on the ball and gifting Montreal a goal, Kantari was equally poor in Toronto's 3-0 playoff loss.
With Williams being cheaper than Kantari, it didn't make any sense to keep the latter around as a depth option. Should one of Perquis or Moor go down with injury, a distinct possibility considering their ages and the wear and tear on Perquis, Williams has proven to be a capable replacement.
The club has decent depth at centreback, so it isn't surprising that one of them has left. Even without Kantari the club has Moor, Perquis, Williams, Eriq Zavaleta, Nick Hagglund and Clement Simonen, not to mention Skylar Thomas with Toronto FC II. Not that depth is a bad thing, which couldn't be further from the truth, but Kantari doesn't really bring anything new to the group and was a redundancy.
It was likely a hard move for Tim Bezbatchenko to make, considering he had just brought the player in a matter of months earlier, but Kantari's lacklustre play made it easier on him. Nonetheless it is good to see a GM willing to go back on mistakes he has made.