Today, MLS released the rules for this year's expansion draft that will occur after MLS Cup on December 10th. The draft will see both New York City FC and Orlando City SC select 10 players from the existing 18 other teams in the league. Since MLS rules are just a bit cumbersome and at times difficult to understand, I'll try to break down some of the rules that may be difficult to understand.
• MLS clubs may protect 11 players between their Senior Roster and their Supplemental Roster. If the player’s contract expires at the end of 2014, he will still be considered part of the club’s roster.
The first part is fairly straight forward, Sporting KC and all other teams will be allowed to protect 11 players on the team currently. The Senior Roster vs. Supplemental Roster is where we get some confusion. So I'll try to explain that.
MLS rosters are allowed to have 30 players on them. Spots 1 through 20 on the roster are deemed "Senior Roster" spots. What this means is that those 18-20 players (spots 19 and 20 do not need to be filled) count against the club's salary budget.
The Supplemental roster are spots 21-30 on the roster. These players’ salaries do not count against the salary budget. Generation Adidas players fall into this category (more on them later). Depending on their spot on the roster their minimum salary is either $48,500 (21-24) or $36,500 (25-30). The team can also have two home grown players making over the minimum amount factor in here, similar to a Generation Adidas player.
The league does not publish a list of which players are senior roster and which are supplemental, but using the MLS players union salaries and roster you can make a good guess.
For example, with KC Matt Besler, Claudio Bieler, Jorge Claros, Aurelien Collin, Toni Dovale, Dom Dwyer, Benny Feilhaber, Andy Gruenebaum, Eric Kronberg, Chance Myers, Paulo Nagamura, Lawrence Olum, Ike Opara, Jacob Peterson, Soony Saad, CJ Sapong, Seth Sinovic, Martin Steuble, Sal Zizzo, and Graham Zusi are likely taking spots 1-20 on the roster. Meanwhile, Christian Duke, Kevin Ellis (HGP), Igor Juliao, Michael Kafari, Jon Kempin (HGP), Mikey Lopez (GA), Jimmy Medranda, Victor Munoz, and Erik Palmer-Brown (HGP) are likely filling the supplemental roster spots.
The last part of the first rule is important as it pertains to Collin. With him out of contract, Sporting will need to choose whether to expose him and take their chances, or protect him and keep his MLS rights should he leave.
• If a club protects a player, it is not obligated to exercise the player’s option. It may renegotiate subject to terms of the CBA.
Fairly straight forward, if there's a player that is in an option year and KC protects them, KC does not have to pick up said player's option.
• If a player retires, he will not be a part of the club’s roster, but his club will lose its right of first refusal to him should he ultimately decide to play.
Again straight forward and a rule that shouldn't affect KC this year.
• Players on a club’s Supplemental Roster, other than Generation Adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2014 MLS season or Homegrown Players on a club’s Supplemental Roster, will be part of the expansion draft.
• Generation Adidas players who have not been graduated at the end of the 2014 MLS season and Homegrown Players on a club’s Supplemental Roster at the end of the 2014 MLS season are automatically protected (clubs do not have to use a protected slot on them).
Combining these two rules. What that means is that the supplemental players I listed above, Christian Duke, Igor Juliao, Michael Kafari,, Jimmy Medranda, and Victor Munoz are all available for selection. KC's home grown players, Kevin Ellis, Jon Kempin, and Erik Palmer-Brown will all be protected automatically. The team's Generation Adidas player, Mikey Lopez may or may not be protected automatically. This depends on if the league graduates him from the program (which will occur before the draft).
• If NYCFC or Orlando City SC selects a Supplemental Roster Player, it must offer him a Senior Roster position and he must remain on the Senior Roster as of Roster Compliance Date.
Basically it's a bump in status, and potentially a bump in salary if a player from a team's Supplemental Roster is taken.
• Clubs are restricted in the number of International Player(s) that they may make available. Clubs may make available a number of International Players equal to their total number of International Players minus three, provided that if a club has three or fewer International Players it may make available not more than one.
This is one of the more confusing rules I've seen when talking with people about the draft. First the wording of it sucks. Why not just say you must protect at least 3 unless you have less than 4 in which case you can only make available 1 international available in the draft. For Kansas City they have 6 (possibly 7) internationals: Claudio Bieler, Jorge Claros, Toni Dovale, Igor Juliao, Jimmy Medranda, and Martin Steuble (possibly Victor Munoz as well I'm not positive of his status), so they must protect three of those players. Players like Aurelien Collin, Dom Dwyer, and Paulo Nagamura have their green card and do not count as internationals on the roster.
• For purposes of this expansion process, any non-domestic U.S. players will count as an International.
This refers back to my point about green cards in the previous rule. Initially reading this rule I was worried that this had changed. Reviewing prior year's rules for the expansion draft though, this has remained on the books so Collin, Dwyer, etc, don't fall into the internationals category.
• Designated Players are NOT automatically protected (i.e., clubs must choose whether to protect such players and if such player is not protected, he will be available for selection in the Expansion Draft). However, if the Designated Player has a no-trade clause in his contract, then his MLS club must protect him and he will count as one of the 11 players who may be protected.
This means that Sporting KC will have to choose if they are going to protect Claudio Bieler and Graham Zusi, both designated players for KC, they will not be automatically protected. It also means that because Matt Besler has a no trade clause in his new Designated Player deal, that he will fill one of Kansas City's 11 protected spots.
• Once two players have been claimed from a team’s non-protected roster, that team is eliminated from the expansion draft and may not lose any further players. In addition, once a player has been claimed from a club’s non-protected roster, that club may move a player from its non-protected roster to its protected roster.
The maximum number of players that Kansas City can lose is 2. If Orlando and New York take a KC player with the first and second picks of the draft, Kansas City's day is done. What it also means is that if KC has a player taken, they can protect another. For example, KC could expose both Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum and not worry about losing both. If one of them gets taken, KC could turn right around and immediately protect the other one to avoid losing him as well.
• Right to Negotiate: NYCFC and Orlando City SC will have the right to renegotiate a draft player’s salary (either up or down) without having to place such player on waivers or giving his previous club a right of first refusal.
This means that if, for example, Orlando drafts Paulo Nagamura and his big salary, OCSC would have the ability to attempt to renegotiate with the player to try to get them at a lower price. This is something that Kansas City will have to keep in mind when looking at players that they will protect, because now just throwing out high priced players could come back to hurt.
This rule is also something that will be interesting to watch, because if a player doesn't come to terms with OCSC or NYCFC, that club still holds their MLS rights (similar to what happened with Herculez Gomez and Kevin Hartman). In a year that the CBA expires between the league and players union, this could be an interesting wrinkle in the proceeds for the draft.