So I guess we now know why Cristian Nazarit is smiling so brightly...
The Major League Soccer Players Union has released their end of summer update on players' salaries. If you have wondered how much Sebastian Grazzini and Pavel Pardo are making, we have the answer and a full update to the Chicago Fire salary picture below. At least, we kind of/probably do. Let me explain after the break.
The Raw Numbers
|Team||Player||Position||Base Salary||Guaranteed Comp
|Total Senior Roster Salary||$2,031,500||$2,350,062|
|23||CHI||Corben Bone||M||$90,000||$151,200||Generation adidas/Domestic||22|
|26||CHI||Kellen Gulley||F||$48,000||$62,000||Home Grown/Domestic||17|
|27||CHI||Sean Johnson||GK||$75,000||$108,000||Generation adidas/Domestic||22|
|30||CHI||Victor Pineda||M||$42,000||$48,742||Home Grown/Domestic||18|
If you are confused as to why the players are listed like this, it's time to (re)visit the Chicago Fire Roster Construction post. It breaks down to each MLS team has 20 Senior Roster Spots that count towards the salary budget and 10 Supplemental Roster Spots that don't. This updated list includes the Dasan Robinson for Dan Gargan swap, the Pavel Pardo signing/Bratislav Ristic release, and the signings of Sebastian Grazzini and Kellen Gulley. It also includes an apparent renegotiation of Cristian Nazarit's contract.
Number one item that should pop out at any Fire fan who has been monitoring the salaries is Nazarit's jump in pay. Back in May, he was listed at $42,000. Fast forward to today, and he's the highest paid player on the team pulling down $302,500. Nazarit's signing and the earlier release of salary numbers from the MLS Players Union were close together. There's a chance someone was prepping the numbers and said 'just publish it, put down anyone we aren't 100% sure on at the league minimum of $42,000'. Maybe Nazarit was making $302,500 all along. I find team writer Jeff Crandall to be an invaluable source on the Chicago Fire and all things Major League Soccer. At the time of the Gaston Puerari sale, Crandall tweeted this out
RE: Puerari Sale #MLS Salary numbers aren't always what are printed and I think the offer from Atlas was too good to turn down...
MLSPU listed Puerari's salary at $50,000. Crandall implied it was at least moderately higher than that figure. Perhaps if Puerari was still with the Fire, his salary would be much higher in this release just like Nazarit's. We'll never know so let's consider the other possibility outside some weird MLSPU/contract glitch: Nazarit re-negotiated his contract.
You couldn't blame the front office for the thought here. Nazarit is 20 years old, scored two goals in the first seven MLS Regular Season games he played in, and even got a blip of praise from Sir Alex Ferguson when Manchester United came to town. Nazarit's agent calls the Fire front office and says "how would you like to keep Nazarit here for a couple of years?". Perhaps Frank Klopas made a call himself. Bottom line is Nazarit has not been all that great recently and it might have coincided with getting a big contract extension. Sadly 'player gets big money and starts to play poorly' is a story as old as player contracts themselves so Nazarit's work rate needs to be watched closely. Fire faithful can tell you how much of an anchor Justin Mapp's big contract became to the team in recent years. The positive spin is Nazarit is still 20 and he does lead the MLS Reserves League in goals. I wouldn't even rule out the Fire throwing in some extra salary budget funds his way in 2011 in exchange for playing at a lower rate in 2012, 2013, etc. That would be a shrewd use of resources that would raise Nazarit's value to the club in the future and make him an attractive player on the international transfer market.
The next note of reference is Kellen Gulley showing up here. When the Chicago Fire announced his signing on August 11, they mentioned Gulley wouldn't be added to the Fire's first team roster until 2012. The Fire Juniors-Mississippi product doesn't show up on the Chicago Fire's roster page but he shows up here on the MLSPU salary update. There's no real disadvantage or advantage to the current arrangement, it's just a little odd.
Finally, there's Pardo and Grazzini. Grazzini and Pardo. Those two have made Chicago look very threatening and it looks like combined they are making about $100,000 less than Nazarit is making by himself. Pardo is over $100,000 but Grazzini is looking like even more of a bargain with the low, low price of $48,000. Time will tell if that's a 'Puerari/Nazarit' $48,000 or something much more straightforward. There's also nothing preventing Grazzini from re-neogiationg his contract when the season ends too.
Overall, the picture continues to look all right for the Chicago Fire salary budget in 2012. There could be a problem or two on the horizon but we need more evidence to make a full judgment on individual cases.