The MLS Players Union’s salary list is out. First, a disclaimer: it is regularly said that these numbers, for whatever reason, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Second, they are of limited use regardless seeing as it is very, very difficult for anyone but Toronto FC’s capologists to confidently describe how much space under the salary cap the club has.
Which leaves us simply to say stuff like ‘that seems cheap!’ and ‘that seems a bad idea!’
Before all of that, though, here’s the full list:
Toronto FC salaries
One other problem is that no one, to my knowledge, has ever clarified whether it is the ‘base salary’ figure or the ‘guaranteed compensation’ (salary + some bonuses) that counts against the cap. By my probably meaningless calculations, TFC have space under the ceiling either way.
If that is the case, it’s good news when it comes to re-upping the likes of Drew Moor and Justin Morrow.
Anyway, on to the list.
The two players that immediately stand out are the two big signings of the offseason, Victor Vazquez and Chris Mavinga (more on him later). Vazquez’s $700,000 (I’m going to refer to the guaranteed compensation unless otherwise specified) is paid down below the maximum salary with targeted allocation money, and on the evidence we have seen thus far looks to be very good value.
I tend to take the view that designated players’ salaries are irrelevant - I’m not an MLSE accountant, and therefore I don’t care if Michael Bradley, for example, earns $500,000 or $6,500,000 as long as he’s better than everyone else in his position. I think he’s right up there, so I’m fine with his contract.
Vazquez is a little different, though, because though his cap hit is the same as (or lower than) a DP, every extra penny of TAM spent paying it down to that level is an asset that could be used elsewhere. Again, from the limited - but convincing - body of work we can assess so far, I think a max salary plus somewhere in the region of (I’m guessing) $300,000 to $400,000 of TAM is looking like a smart investment.
There are plenty of other perfectly sound deals on the list but of the newer ones, Raheem Edwards’ stands out. His $53,004 doesn’t count against the cap because he is on the reserve roster, but that, obviously, opens up space for Toronto to spend money on someone else. Eventually, we all hope Edwards will be good enough to earn a lot more but the early, low-cost years of talented academy products can also be valuable in helping to fill out the roster with something better than the average MLS minimum-salary veteran.
Also of note is Benoit Cheyrou’s drastic fall to $65,004, which is the senior minimum. I would guess that contract was signed on the understanding Cheyrou would be provided with some sort of route into coaching with TFC, but in the short-term it is another useful discount.
Now, what sucks?
To be honest, there is nothing on the list that, as of today, is outright terrible. The biggest potential problem is Mavinga, who is the club’s fifth-highest-paid player but whose TFC career has not started well at all.
It’s too early to label Mavinga a flop and forget about him, but quite frankly the outlook is not particularly good. If we can safely assume he is unlikely to ever be worth a DP contract, the best-case scenario is that he becomes a starter and lives up to his $300,000 salary. There would seem to me, at the moment, to be a lot more potential for the downside, and reports at the time of his signing suggest he is on a three-year contract.
Beyond that, I’ve said before that Steven Beitashour earns more than would be ideal but as a consistent, productive member of the starting XI, it’s no disaster. The only other issue I can foresee is in central midfield, where Marky Delgado’s raise is much more generous than I anticipated.
One - or possibly two - of Delgado, Armando Cooper and Jonathan Osorio is going to play a lot of games this season and be worth $200,000, which they all earn in the region of. It’s very difficult to see all three of them doing that, though, which means someone is eventually not going to be providing great value.
The overall picture, though, is not too bad. One or two misfires are almost inevitable; the problems start when a number of ageing players are tied down to expensive, multi-year contracts, which is not an issue TFC currently have.