A look at the Fire's 2012 "salary cap" situation

It's that time of the year again where we play the MLS salary budget guessing game!

With the recent release of the MLS Player's Union salary information it's possible to get a general look at where each team sits in relation to reaching the "salary budget" amount of $2,810,000.00 that each club has to spend on "budgeted" players.  Of course it's impossible to gather a completely accurate assessment because of the small print, budget shuffling shenanigans, and allocation dealings that MLS won't make public but I'll take a shot at it any way.

MLS roster rules state that players occupying roster spots 1-20 count against the club's salary budget.  It's not too difficult to ascertain which players the Fire consider to be part of the "budgeted" players list after perusing the rules and salary figures.  Age and amount are the determining factors in most cases when attempting to decipher who is part of the first twenty.  Spots 19 and 20 could be swapped out with some of the "non-budget" players but this should be close.

Salary Budget Players are included here to show guaranteed 2012 salary amounts listed in the Player's Union report since this is the number used against the cap/budget total.

Kheli Dube           $ 76,333

Arne Friedrich   $230,833

Dan Gargan          $ 88,000.00

Cory Gibbs           $165,000

Sebastian Grazzini $ 50,400

Sean Johnson    $123,000

Jay Nolly    $ 78,250

Patrick Nyarko   $219,500

Dominic Oduro $108,880

Daniel Paladini $ 86,978

Marco Pappa   $140,000

Pavel Pardo     $250,000

Logan Pause    $187,833

Frederico Puppo  $100,000

Rafael Robayo   $132,500

Chris Rolfe   $198,329

Gonzalo Segares $217,750

Jalil Anibaba  $105,450

Mike Videira   $ 44,725

Kwame Watson-Siriboe $48,400

The total guaranteed salary amounts of these players equals $2,464,328.  It's possible that Austin Berry, a 2012 draft choice pulling down $59,000 is considered a part of the "budget" roster in place of Watson-Siriboe but I've kept the older player in the budgeted column for this exercise since the sums aren't large amounts.  The non-budget players which are drawing league salaries and do not count against the cap/budget are listed below.

Orr Barouch   $44,000

Austin Berry  $59,000

Corben Bone  $161,200

Kellen Gulley   $ 69,000

Hunter Jumper  $ 33,750

Victor Pineda   $50,842

Paolo Tornaghi  $ 33,750

Tony Walls  $ 33,750

Steven Kinney   $ 44,100

Alex      $unkonwn

Homegrown players Pineda and Gulley don't count against the roster budget.  They're allowed to fill one of the spots available from 21-30 and they are exempt from budget restrictions per the rules.  Corben Bone has yet to graduate from the Generation Adidas program so his salary can also be allocated to the non-budget category.  As an international with a bit of a pedigree, I suspect that Tornaghi's salary will escalate in coming years if he sticks around past this season.  Newcomer Alex could be occupying one of the final "budget" spots but it's likely that his compensation is commensurate with other players under the age of 25 therefore not consuming a large portion of the available cap space.

Let's consider again for the purpose of this exercise that the Fire's "on-budget" player total is $2,464,328.  That does not take into account any amounts that the club has paid via transfer fees, allocation, loans, etc. and only takes into account the information provided by the player's union.  This leaves the club with $345,672 remaining under the "budget" or "cap" amount.  Assuming that the Fire pick up the option to retain Sebastian Grazzini for what is presumably an amount much larger than the $50,400 currently shown they will need to allocate a good chunk of that $345K for the Argentine playmaker.

Should Grazzini's option include a significant raise, say $150,000 for the purpose of this exercise again it would still leave the Fire with $195,672 in budget space to add another player.  A designated player level acquisition counts as $175,000.00 towards the budget amount if that player is added in July so it would appear that the club has the capacity within MLS budget rules to add at least one more big player.  I'm also not taking into account the six figure allocation amount received from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for Wilman Conde's rights this spring since those numbers are not publicized.  Allocation dollars is the MLS equivalent of funny money and can be used in a variety of different ways to influence the "on-budget" amount each club has to spend.  Clubs are aware of what every other team in the league has in terms of allocation cash at the beginning of the season but it doesn't appear that those numbers are shared between clubs once the season is underway.

It should also be noted that the amounts listed in the Player's Union report isn't always the bottom line when attempting to add or decipher MLS budget totals.  For example, Seattle's Mauro Rosales is listed with a guaranteed compensation of $225,000 but he is considered a designated player counting as $350,000 against the cap because of separate agreements between the club, the player, and his representation that aren't necessarily shown on the Player's Union report.  It's possible that the Fire are operating under similar agreements with some players so the Union's report shouldn't be considered as the final authority for amateur capologists like myself.

It's doubtful that we'll get a clear explanation any time soon as to how the "salary cap" total is actually compiled but the annual Player's Union report does provide enough information to get a general picture and guide in an attempt to at least get close.  It would appear that the Fire have room to add another important acquisition.  The question now is can it get done?



Filed under: 2012 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Alex begins training with the club tomorrow morning. He will not be eligible for selection until June 29.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    so i take it he will primarily be used as a sub due to playing the same position as grazzini?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I would assume so.

  • fb_avatar

    This youth movement should have worked by now. So one or two pieces here and there will not make that impact we are looking for. I hope I am wrong though.

  • In reply to waam:

    The youth movement or re-building after 2009 is just over two seasons in. They've got some good pieces to build on IMO.

  • fb_avatar

    True true. But nothing scary which was my hope. Is it even possible to build a scary team in MLS?

  • In reply to waam:

    That's a good question.....I think it's impossible to build a super club even if you spend the cash on three DP's.

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