The brand spanking new Re-Entry draft gets underway next week. Due to MLS single entity status true free agency is never going to happen as it opens a legal avenue for the players union to challenge that status. Instead we get this well constructed compromise. The players have some leverage and the teams can get instant veteran help if they are willing to pay for it.
A couple of key highlights before the barrage of bullet points hit you.
Sign and trades are possible. Players do have right of refusal on the trade. I don't know if it will be this year but at some point sign and trades before and during the two week process that is the Re-Entry draft are going to become a very big deal. Consider that the timing of the Re-Entry draft is before the equally ill named Superdraft. I could easily see draft picks becoming an essential part of acquiring any key veterans.
Don't expect all veterans to go during the first stage of the draft. If a player is taken during the first stage he has to be offered a contract either equal or 5% higher than his previous salary depending on his player status (which is explained below). If taken in stage 2 a team is not locked into that format. I fully expect one of the bigger named players in this draft not to go until stage 2 (Juan Pablo Angel probably).
General rules and format
Players 23 years old with 3 years of service whose option was not picked up are available to be selected. From here on out known as 23/3 players.
Players aged 25 years old and with 4 years of service whose contract has expired are available to be selected. From here on out known as 25/4 players.
Players aged 30 years old and with 8 years of service whose contract has expired are eligible to be selected. From here on out known as 30/8 players.
All players are eligible including Generation Adidas and Designated Players as long as they reach the age and service requirements. (Juan Pablo Angel for example should be available in this FA re-entry draft)
Draft order is in reverse order of finish including playoffs.
If a player is asked to take a reduction in pay he can make himself available to the re-entry draft.
Stage 1 specifics
The 23/3 and 25/4 players have to receive a salary equal to their base pay the year prior. Also any performance bonuses included in their base year contract are included in the new contract.
30/8 players have to receive a salary at least 5% higher than their base year salary.
Contract length is 1+1+1 (I'm assuming team or player option is negotiable. Almost all MLS contracts are team option)
If you go undrafted you can continue to negotiate with your current team. If no agreement is reached in 7 days you are entered into phase two of the re entry draft.
Any player selected in Stage 1 will remain on the drafting team's salary cap until April 1 2011. Teams and players can not mutually renegotiate to a lower salary until that time.
Phase Two specifics:
No specific salary or option requirements are part of this draft.
The team acquiring the players rights nee
ds to make a concrete offer within seven days.
If the player does not sign with the team, the team retains first right of refusal for contracts regarding that player in the future.
If the player goes undrafted in both phases he is available to sign with any team.
The timeline for all of the above shenanigans is below. Please note that we should see a list of Re-Entry draft eligible players Friday by 5PM. Well maybe not a direct list from the league but information should start coming out.
Teams may sign their re draft eligible players to new contracts.
Sign and trade these players to other clubs. Player has right of refusal.
12pm: All offers that were made November 30th may be withdrawn
2pm: Blackout period. Clubs can no longer sign or trade re draft eligible players until December 9th.
5PM: League office issues list of Re-Entry Stage 1 player pool to clubs and union
2PM Stage 1 of the Re-Entry draft starts. Vancouver selects 17th and Portland 18th. This will be done via conference call (I would think broadcasted via the web but you never know).
5PM: League office sends out option letters and offer letters to the players selected.
Blackout period ends. Teams may sign and trade players. Player retains right of refusal in this stage.
12PM: all offers from 12/8 may be with drawn.
2PM: Stage 2 player list issued. Blackout period in effect, no sign and trades.
2PM Stage 2 begins
Draft order same as Stage 1. Teams may select their re draft eligible players as long as every other team has passed on them.
I'll be back over the weekend with a look at available players that the Fire should be considering.