The Cat Who Wasn't There

[Update below. Kansas City got a second round draft pick. Which, you know, changes how this looks.]

Usually I wait for official sources for stuff like this, but as far as I'm concerned, Buzz Carrick is official. I sometimes think Third Degree knows more about FC Dallas than Schellas Hyndman. They certainly know more than HSG. Anyway, the latest scoop is that Bovine Blue has signed the greatest American keeper in MLS history.

I'm not worried about Dallas fans adjusting - the poor guys had to cheer for Carlos Ruiz and Eddie Johnson for years. Doing a 180 on El Gato will be a picnic in comparison. The only things I need to know are:

1. What FCD had to pay KCW in compensation. I've been assured repeatedly that MLS players are never truly released, and that Kevin Hartman was basically Dred Scott.

2. Whether Hartman was signed for what would be ridiculously below market value. He's 36, which isn't decrepit for a goalkeeper, especially in the Pat Onstad era, but he doesn't have ideal upside. There's not exactly a glut of young keepers out there - someone ask Jorge Salcedo what happened to that keeper factory out in Westwood, though. And Buzz tells us FCD is thinking backup. But backup to a keeper 18 months older, and noticeably crazier.

Gato made $165K last year, which was more than both CUSA keepers put together. Sala made $158,125. (For grits and shiggles, Mark Wheeler's MFLS fantasy game has him priced at 140,000.) I think if Dallas gave him six figures, Hartman's pretty happy.

3. Whether Dallas signed him just to launch a middle finger at MLSPU. Hartman, Dave van den Bergh, and developmental players making the federal minimum wage...for the Marianas Islands...were the poster boys for the player revolt. If HSG, of all organizations, made an elder statesman free agent happy, then that's such a propaganda victory for the owners that MLSPU might be a little annoyed with Kevin today.

Or, maybe Hartman signed an awful contract just to stay in the game, and this was (oh - wrong sport, wrong generation reference ahead - you've been warned) Andre Dawson signing with the Cubs in 1987 for $500,000 (um, for our younger readers, pretend that was an insanely low amount for a future Hall of Famer in his prime).

I still don't think any important games will be missed, but if there is a strike, it will be interesting to see what Hartman does.

UPDATE: Nerts, I should have waited for the official releases. Andy in the comments quoted the relevant parts, but now this swings back to justifying the players' complaints.

I either didn't know or forgot that Hartman played every minute for the Wizards in MLS since joining, which makes him more durable than, to pick an example completely and utterly at random, Donovan Ricketts.

Which ain't the point. It's about the future, not the past.

What is the point is that Kansas City all but ran him out of town on a rail. Once a team does that, and especially if he re-signs a new contract within MLS - the Wiz should get nothing for him. It's not even a free agency thing, it's a bureaucracy thing. It makes it harder on MLS teams to fill their rosters. Free agency within MLS isn't unreasonable at all.

What if two MLS teams bid a player up to unreasonable prices? Well, that's why God invented the salary cap. The highest teams can go is Designated Player territory anyway, so at that point it's up to the owners to spend their own money, not the league's.

So the Wizards got a free draft pick just for cutting someone. The rich and successful domestic leagues MLS wants to be don't have such silliness.