By Ridge Mahoney
As was the case last year when it was first utilized, Stage 1 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft didn’t trigger much action. Of the more than 50 eligible players available, only three were taken.
Red Bull defender Carlos Mendes and ex-teammate Danleigh Borman (Toronto FC) were claimed by Columbus and New England, respectively, and Real Salt Lake attacker Arturo Alvarez has been nabbed by Chivas USA.
The contracts of Borman and Alvarez were about to expire, so they will be tendered Bona Fide offers as per their ages and years of service in the league (see below). Mendes’ contract option was declined by New York, so by picking him in Stage 1 the Crew is obligated to pay him the salary stipulated in his contract for 2012.
Though Borman and Alvarez are only a year apart in age, they are far apart in years of service in MLS. Yet both are classified as players
at least 25 years of age with at least four seasons of MLS experience. As such, they must be offered a contract worth at least as much as the
salary they earned in 2011.
If Alvarez, 26, were 30 or older, his Bona Fide offer would have to be worth at least 105 percent of his 2011 deal, since he meets the minimum of eight seasons in the league (since 2003). In this situation, he’s no better off than Borman, 25, who joined MLS in 2008, despite playing in MLS since 2003.
MLS instituted the Re-Entry Draft a year ago as a condition of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated in the spring of 2010. In Stage 1 last year only two players, Joseph Ngwenya and Aaron Holbein, were selected. Eleven more players were picked in Stage 2, which allows clubs and players to negotiate deals irrespective of prior contract terms.
Players who meet the following conditions are eligible for the Re-Entry Draft:
* Players who are at least 23 years old and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose options were not exercised by their clubs (available at option salary for 2012). Columbus is bound by this requirement to claim Mendes.
* Players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not offer them a contract at their previous salary (available at 2011 salary). Alvarez and Borman fall into this category.
* Players who are at least 30 years old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them (available for at least 105 percent of their 2011 salary). About two dozen players are in this classification and none were selected.
Mendes turns 32 this month but does not have the required eight years’ service in MLS to qualify for the last category. He started his MLS career in 2005.
If a player picked in Stage 1 cannot come to terms, the selecting club retains a right of first refusal. Players not picked in Stage 1 are eligible for Stage 2, or they can opt out of the process and negotiate with their current club.
Several players eligible for Re-Entry, including Joe Cannon and John Thorrington (Vancouver), Shalrie Joseph and Matt Reis (New England), Ante Jazic (Chivas USA), and Bobby Boswell (Houston) opted out of the Re-Entry Draft and have signed new contracts.
MLS will conduct Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft next Monday. It was in this phase last year that veterans such as Juan Pablo Angel, Frankie Hejduk, Jimmy Conrad, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Cunningham, Cory Gibbs and Josh Wolff changed teams.