As many of you have probably heard by now, Eric Brunner, a defender out of Ohio State who was NYRB's first pick in the draft, (# 2 in the second round, #16 overall) has had his roster spot taken away and given to Toronto castoff Andrew Boyens.
(As is my wont, I'd like to gve credit here but the chain of custody on this story is a bit muddled. See HERE or HERE or HERE or possibly HERE. I can't sort it out but I don't want to cheat anyone, so YOU figure it out.)
In case you missed it, NYRB decided they wanted to sign former Toronto defender Andrew Boyens and to clear a senior roster spot they called Brunner and told him they were cancelling the contract he had negotiated after the draft for $36,000 base salary and $44,750 in "guaranteed" salary.
(Sort of gives new meaning to the term "guaranteed" doesn't it?)
Instead, they offered to move him down to the developmental roster and pay him the princely sum of $17,700. He told them no thanks.
Now in point of fact, teams move players back and forth between the two rosters all the time. Normally, when a team has a senior spot open they'll move a contributor up from the dev roster so he can make a little more money, but if the team decides to sign someone else the first guy gets moved back down.
It's not a problem because the kid signed a developmental contract in the first place. He ended up making some extra dough for a bit, but he can't complain much when they ask him to accept his original deal again.
But in this case they drafted Brunner, negotiated a contract (which usually involves the assumption of good faith) and he signed a senior roster deal. He would not have signed a dev deal under any circumstances.
Make no mistake: this is not about how crappy Developmental salaries are. Rather, it's about a bait-and-switch scam, renigging on your word and giving a kid the shaft.
Did Agoos and Osorio really think Brunner was going to go meekly go along with this? What self-respecting professional athlete would?
And is this the message that MLS wants to send out to all the prospective MLS draftees across the fruited plain? "Sign a contract with us and if you're lucky we won't change our minds and screw you over"? Hell of a pitch there, guys.
Jeff Agoos PROVIDES THE QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s unfortunate for him that we’re making the move to move him down; but it’ll be a test for his character..."
Hey Jeff, let's see how your "character" responds to a 50% pay cut. I bet you'd really think THAT was "unfortunate".
This is pretty cheap and sleazy, even for an MLS team, and asking the kid to sit still for it is insulting.
To add insult to injury, there are likely other teams who would gladly sign the kid, but due to arcane MLS rules, since NYRB offered him a dev contract he's still their property even though they ripped up his contract. If anyone wants to give the guy a shot they'll of course have to work out a "trade".
Ask Chicago how that's likely to go.
They want to cut a guy, fine. Cut him. Cancel his deal and notify the league that he's now eligible for waivers. Let him go look for work. How can you possibly justify canceling a valid contract, offering him half the money and then continuing to "own" the player when he refuses to go along?
At the very least, once you've given a player a senior contract it makes no sense and shouldn't be allowed to try to jam a dev deal down his throat. It's like cutting a player from a Major League Baseball team and them offering him a rookie contract. That ship has sailed.