The first phase of the MLS re-entry draft took place today, and three players leaguewide were selected. Defender Carlos Mendes, formerly of the New York Red Bulls, was selected by the Columbus Crew, while defender Danleigh Borman, formerly of Toronto FC, was selected by the New England Revolution. But the big news for Chivas USA fans comes from the Goats' selection, of midfielder Arturo Alvarez, formerly of Real Salt Lake. Alvarez spent just a year with RSL, with 16 league games played, half off the bench, and one assist. RSL seemed to like him, but their squad depth and budgetary constraints, coupled with Alvarez's salary, meant they were likely to part ways with him.
Alvarez is a nine-year veteran of MLS, the only professional league he's played in, splitting his time between the San Jose Earthquakes, FC Dallas, and RSL. He is also a Salvadorean international, and played in the 2011 Gold Cup, in addition to World Cup qualifiers. At 26, he is approaching his theoretical peak as a professional, and Chivas are in desperate need of talented players in the middle of their career. In that respect, it makes for a pretty useful selection.The puzzling element to all of this, however, is that Alvarez was selected in the first phase of the draft. In this phase, players selected need to be paid according to the terms of their previous contract. Alvarez base salary was $192,585 in 2011, which was pushed over $200,000 in guaranteed compensation, and according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the players, would be due a 5 percent increase in 2012. For Chivas, this is a lot of money. Many who closely observe MLS noted today that it seemed likely that Alvarez would not be selected by any other teams in the first phase and would likely be available in the second phase, to be held next Monday. In the second phase, teams are able to renegotiate contracts, which means they would normally be negotiated down to a lower price.
So why did Chivas select Alvarez in the first phase? Of the three players selected today, he had by far the highest salary. My inclination was that perhaps Chivas believed another team was interested in swooping in and taking Alvarez before next week's phase. That still could be true, but Scott French over at ESPN talked with Robin Fraser today, and reported that Alvarez is considering going to Mexico to play in 2012. So there could be a few possibilities for this selection at this time: first, perhaps the club is willing to pay Alvarez a fairly high salary in order to entice him to stay in MLS. If that is the case, you would have to assume the club believes Alvarez will be highly involved in the play in 2012. Another possibility is that they may want to hold onto his rights, even temporarily, to block another team from getting him. This makes sense if they believe he's certain to go to Mexico. Finally, they could be taking a flyer on Alvarez, knowing he'd like to go to the FMF, but waiting if he's not able to get picked up in Mexico. Still, the price tag makes me believe the first option is most likely, but you never know, especially in MLS and with Chivas.
If Alvarez and Chivas come to an agreement on a contract, we'll let you know. Otherwise, we'll wait and see what happens with this story.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!