COLUMBUS, OH - MAY 28: Elliott: Out of contract (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
The next step in the MLS offseason is underway, and teams are starting to decide about the future of players currently on club rosters. With the re-entry draft scheduled to start next Monday, clubs have to make a decision on player contracts, particularly those with club options. If a player is out of contract, or if the club refuses the option for the next year, most of those players are available for the re-entry draft. In the case of Chivas USA, six players will be available for the re-entry draft. Midfielder Simon Elliott is out of contract, while Andrew Boyens, Chukwudi Chijindu, Ante Jazic, Zach Thornton, and Mariano Trujillo had their options declined by the team.
What this means is that any of these players are available in what amounts to a waiver draft, with teams getting an opportunity to select any available players. If a player is selected in the first phase of the draft, on December 5, the club must exercise the previous option - so essentially pick up the contract the player had been on. They can also provide a formal offer to players, and players have the option of deciding to play for the team that selected them. In the second phase of the draft, which will take place a week later, on December 12, clubs that select players can renegotiate contracts. Chivas themselves are fourth in the order, but remember, it is a waiver draft, so it doesn't run quite like new player drafts.I don't think there are too many surprises on the list of Chivas players made eligible for the draft. Boyens has been out of favor with coach Robin Fraser most of the season, and Trujillo was a backup, but never given a start during 2011. As I wrote about Thornton, he gets paid too much ($162,500 guaranteed salary in 2011) to be a backup goalkeeper. Elliott had a good season with Chivas, but he is getting older and I don't necessarily think Chivas would be worried to see him go. And Chijindu never saw time with the first team in 2011.
The only real surprise was Jazic. He had a fantastic season with Chivas in 2011, and seeing him first on the unprotected list for the Expansion Draft, and now having his option declined and becoming eligible for the re-entry draft is a bit surprising. He is not young (35) and his salary may be a bit higher than the front office would like ($115,000 base salary in 2011). This could be a bargaining ploy to try and re-sign him for less money next year.
That last point is key: any, or even all of these players could potentially return to Chivas next year. If a player makes it through both phases of the draft without being selected, or cannot come to terms with a club, the player is a free agent and can be signed by any team. You may find some of these players may return to Chivas in 2012, but the club wants to pay them less and if no other club wants them, it makes it hard for the player to drive a hard bargain. My inclination, however, is that most of these guys will not be returning to the team. Bear in mind that my inclination has been wrong before.
Also, Chivas could select players in the re-entry draft. We'll go over some of the available players later this week.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!