A byproduct of negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement between MLS and the MLS Players Union, the Re-Entry Process (its official name) gives players who meet age and service benchmarks an opportunity to change teams if they are out of contract or their options were declined.
Dwayne De Rosario, Marvell Wynne, Edson Buddle and Robbie Findley are among the 62 players available for Stage 1. Teams claiming players in Stage 1 must pay the salary stipulated in their contracts for 2015 or present them with a Bona Fide offer as detailed in the CBA.
MLS Re-Entry Draft: Player List
To review, here are the guidelines for eligibility:
a) players at least 23 years of age with a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose options were not exercised;
b) players out of contract who have not received a Bona Fide Offer and who are at least 25 years of age with a minimum of four years of MLS experience;
c) players at least 30 years old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience.
If a player out of contract rejects a Bona Fide offer -- at a salary of at least 105 percent of the last year of his expired deal -- the club retains a right of first refusal on that player. The player does not have the right to refuse such an offer and go straight to Stage 2.
Players not selected in Stage 1 are eligible for Stage 2, to be held next week. The advantage for teams waiting out the first phase is they can negotiate a deal for players taken in Stage 2, as the salary stipulations specified in Stage 1 do not apply.
Two years ago, for example, the Philadelphia Union claimed Conor Casey, then of Colorado, and signed him to deal at a salary of $175,000. He had been paid $400,000 for the 2012 season by the Rapids, which then declined his option. Had Philly claimed him in Stage 1, it would have been obligated to pay him the salary for 2013 stipulated in his existing contract.
For obvious reasons, many more players are chosen in Stage 2 than in Stage 1, but that didn’t stop D.C. United from claiming Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy) and Bobby Boswell (Houston). Franklin’s option had been declined and Boswell was out of contract. Both were signed, as was striker Fabian Espindola, who was taken with the first pick in Stage 2. All three were vital contributors for United’s Eastern Conference title and the most dramatic improvement -- 43 points -- in league history.
As the team with the worst record in 2013, D.C. United held the top spot in the Re-Entry Process. The order of selection is the same as used for most other drafts, though teams can use their slots in trades. Montreal has the first pick this year. Expansion teams New York City FC and Orlando City SC, which hold the top slots in the SuperDraft to be held next month, are at the end of this list.
For the first three years of the Re-Entry draft, many more players were taken in Stage 2 than in Stage 1. Only two players were taken in Stage 1 of the inaugural draft in 2010; 10 were taken in Stage 2, including prominent players such as Josh Wolff, Jimmy Conrad, Frankie Hejduk, Jeff Cunningham and Tyrone Marshall.
Last year, the split was nearly even: five in Stage 1 and eight in Stage 2. DeRosario went to Toronto FC from D.C. United in Stage 2; TFC has declined his option for the 2015 season.
Players not picked in Stage 2 are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
A player is not obligated to participate in the Re-Entry process; many players have opted to renegotiate with the same team if their options were declined or they were out of contract. And a player can withdraw after Stage 1 if not selected rather than participate in Stage 2.
The trade window re-opens upon conclusion of Stage 1 and teams can also sign their own players not selected. That window closes Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET. Stage 1 will be conducted next Thursday.
Ongoing CBA negotiations could revamp the Re-Entry Process starting next year, but the league will be most reluctant to give players any more leverage, such as allowing more than one team to select the same player. Lessening or eliminating the age requirements is one possible tweak.
2014 Re-Entry Draft Order:
2. San Jose.
6. Toronto FC.
9. Sporting KC.
12. FC Dallas.
13. Real Salt Lake.
14. D.C. United.
15. New York.
17. New England.
18. LA Galaxy.
19. New York City FC.
20. Orlando City.