Wednesday, May 23, 2007

RSL Wants To "Take A Run" At Joseph

Real Salt Lake, unsatisfied with being one of the worst teams in MLS, traded their only proven goalscorer today for a flash in the pan crybaby. Congratulations RSL, you're #13 and you've earned it. The aim of Salt Lake's deal was to free up salary cap by sending Jeff Cunningham to Toronto in exchange for Alecko Eskandarian, their first round pick next season, and cash. It's a clear sign that they are looking into the distant future on this one. (click title to read more)

Or maybe not. This quote at the end of the article threw me for a bit of a loop:

A high-ranking RSL official said, "Parting with Jeff [Cunningham] was hard but we are in a much better position now to improve our team. If you think of the cap room we've created not only from this deal, but also from Jason's [Kreis] retirement and [Luis] Tejada's departure, we've got the cash to possibly make a run at Shalrie Joseph or another player looking for the right change of venue."

Now, I could be wrong here, but that comment is all sorts of wrong. First off, as discussed here, Shalrie Joseph is under contract with the Revs until the end of the 2008 season. If this were Europe, it would be a clear instance of tampering if a club official made a statement like that. The setup is completely different in MLS, where all contracts are owned by the league. The survival of the league up until now has been dependent on a system where individual teams haven't had to bid for players. Some may say this has held MLS back, but this business plan has been vital in keeping the league afloat by keeping costs down. Some of the owners and league officials swear by it, and I highly doubt they feel the league can stand to let the floodgates open with so many unknowns about the economic impact of the designated player rule, youth setups, etc...

I'm a bit surprised this "high ranking team official" was so liberal with throwing Shalrie's name out like that. Joseph's situation has indeed been the most public, but two other MLS stars, who may be on the downside of their careers, are also unhappy with the lack of new contract offers: DC's Christian Gomez and Houston's Dwayne De Rosario. He may have been thinking about the other two, but one thing I know: not mentioning someone has no effect on their contract negotiations. That's where this will wind up hurting the Revs. Ron Waxman, Joseph's agent, can use comments like that to their advantage. The main negotiator on behalf of the Krafts is Sunil Gulati, who just so happen to be on the league's audit committee (among 12 other positions of varying degrees of importance). Sunil also has to think about the league's finances when making these deals. Real Salt Lake doesn't have an employee embedded at MLS HQ quite like Gulati. Although this situation is a sore spot with me, the fact remains comments like that one are not in the league's best interests. It would be interesting if anything becomes of this.

So what would it take for Real Salt Lake to wrestle control from us? Well, it would require a trade. What's funny about the whole thing is it probably would require giving up cap space which would make it hard to give Joseph the raise he deserves. All that aside, I would imagine one of their first round picks in 2008 would be involved, and probably the better of the two. RSL will be at or close to the bottom and Toronto, although better off coming out of that trade, will at worst be a 6th or 7th pick. That has to be enticing for Steve Nicol, who has had success bringing along American talent. Imagine if it was a straight-up trade for their two first round picks? That would almost be worth it from our end if Daniel Hernandez comes back strong from his nagging groin injury.

Another scenario could develop from all of this. The Revs could nail down a designated player this summer. Needing cap space, they could make a trade with RSL sending Joseph there in exchange for one draft pick. I would expect the return from such a trade would be lower if New England had to make it in short order like that.

If not, teams are going to have to be prepared to give the Revs a ton in return for Joseph. He's quite possibly the most important player on the team. He's under contract for awhile and is going nowhere unless it makes the Revs stronger in the process.


Anonymous said...

The rumor out there is RSL might offer 2006 top draft pick Medhi Ballouchy, + other money/picks for Joseph.

Adu and Ballouchy play the same position.

Blue Blooded Journo said...

I'm not sure Ballouchy would be a starter on the Revs right now. Personally, I like him, but I have no idea where he would fit in.

It would need to be packaged with a guarantee of the best RSL 2008 pick and allocation money that the Revs need for a DP they have lined up.

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