Friday, March 31, 2017

Meram, Trapp Rewarded

Earlier this year both Justin Meram and Wil Trapp signed new contract deals that, under today's MLS roster rules, ensures they remain under the $480k max budget hit range. Details, of course, are not exactly known but it's understood that allocation money was used to buy down the player deals to prevent them from becoming "Designated Players." (Teams are only allowed three.)

In many ways, this is a reward for the two players for being above average performers since Gregg Berhalter's arrival. Both of them were important ingredients in his first offseason that late laid the foundation for what the team became in the successful 2015 season.

Both are contributors in different ways and both deliver in key areas for the team. Meram provides a wicked attacking ability in Berhalter's system while Trapp provides stable defending and distribution from the back. Beyond those things, both check off many soft skill boxes like being a team player, leadership, and work ethic.

Strong parallels can be drawn between this contract event and what happened in Kansas City a few years ago with Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. The two of them were important parts of a complete re-branding event and helped guide the team to a couple of the best years in franchise history while earning calls up to the US Men's National Team.

That was about two years ago. There was some concern at when the deals were struck that paying high wages to them would mean the movement of other, less sellable, players. Turns out that it did happen and the team did/has struggled since (I looked at that > here).

History should always be a guide in these situations. Especially when these types of events happen within a restrictive salary capped league. By increasing two player wages as much as they did, and moving out a key midfielder, Sporting KC chose style over substance. Marketability over results and it burned them.

Will that happen here in Columbus? Will the team now be strapped for money for a few years to come because of Meram and Trapp contracts? Large pay increases for individual players often lead to contentment (Ethan Finlay a possible example in Columbus). But it's going to be difficult to track. Rapid expansion of MLS and ever-changing roster rules will make it nearly impossible to tell.

What we do know is that two players got improved wages. Always a good thing, especially in a league that is tight with money in regards to player wages. Especially organically formed talent.

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