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John Bladen

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Dwayne De Rosario – To pay or not to pay?

Written by on February 4, 2011 | 6 Comments »
Posted in General, Toronto FC

Doesn’t it seem as though we can’t go 24 hours without hearing all about what Dwayne De Rosario feels he deserves in remuneration?

If we dutifully follow the advice of his agent/brother (who negotiated his present 4 yr contract just 2 yrs ago), we will consider De Rosario’s worth only in relation to Toronto’s (now sole) designated player – Julian de Guzman.

Broadly speaking, de Guzman makes 4 times De Rosario’s gross wage.  In salary cap terms (vital to MLS success), de Guzman costs TFC about $65k more than De Rosario annually – though this can change dramatically, depending on how allocation cash (amongst other things) is applied.

Surely no-one could argue that de Rosario isn’t worth more than de Guzman, right? In the strongest possible terms, I disagree.  Not with the notion that De Rosario has been more valuable than de Guzman thus far, but with the premise of the argument entirely.

It absolutely isn’t just about which of those two players is more valuable, despite what the De Rosario family press campaign would like you to think. If ‘relative worth’ is the criteria by which TFC’s players are to be paid, let’s expand the discussion a little and include a few more.

Based on the 2010 MLSPU salary review, De Rosario earns 3.3 times what Stefan Frei does in guaranteed compensation and no less than 6.8 times Adrian Cann’s annual stipend.

Maicon Santos, arguably the brightest of the ‘new’ signings in 2010, earned $93k last year – just under 21% of the captain’s wage.

Suddenly, De Rosario doesn’t seem so underpaid, does he? Let’s extend the discussion a little further and incorporate some comparable MLS colleagues.

De Rosario is regularly acclaimed as the team’s main scoring threat – and so he is.  He bagged 15 goals (3rd highest) in league play last year, three of which were from the penalty spot. So who is in his scoring neighbourhood league-wide?  And what do they earn?

Top Five MLS Goalscorers 2010

  1. Chris Wondolowski     San Jose          18 goals        $48,000
  2. Edson Buddle             Los Angeles      17 goals      $188,488
  3. Dwayne De Rosario    Toronto             15 goals      $443,750
  4. Omar Cummings        Colorado           14 goals        $80,250
  5. Sebastien Le Toux      Philadelphia     14 goals      $122,000

Ok, so Wondo came out of nowhere to lead the table. So in deference to De Rosario, let’s take the golden boot winner’s wage out of the average.

The average for the remaining four is $208,622 – and that includes De Rosario’s present wage (more than twice the average).  If we remove his wage as well, the going rate for top five goal performance drops to just $130,246.

Perhaps a sample size of three is too small?  Fair enough.

The average for the top ten in goal scorers is about $369k – and that includes a $1.9M hit (more than half of the total pay of the top ten) courtesy former RBNY designated player JP Angel.  Remove his wage and the average of the remaining 9 is a shade under $200k each.

But perhaps some still aren’t convinced that De Rosario’s present pay packet is adequate.

Since we are in thought-experiment mode, let’s propose a few trades (we’ll base them on the rosters in place in 2010, since those are the ones we have financial data for) and see if there are any takers:

1. De Rosario to Chivas for Alan Gordon, Ante Jazic, Eduardo Lillingston & Maykel Galindo. TFC would save about $50k in salary on that deal… and gain width, depth and a big striker.

2. De Rosario to FC Dallas for David Ferreira, Atiba Harris & George John. True, TFC would be swapping MVP’s, but would also save about $30k.

3. De Rosario to LAG for Omar Gonzalez, Chris Klein & Edson Buddle ?  Almost even monetarily.

4. De Rosario to Seattle for Osvaldo Alonso, Fredy Montero & Steve Zakuani?  TFC saves $15k.

5. De Rosario to RSL for Fabian Espindola, Robbie Findley, Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio & Robbie Russell?  Seems impossible, doesn’t it?  But TFC would add just $50k in such a move, and become instant MLS cup contenders.

Can even the most ardent TFC fan believe that the trades detailed above would receive any consideration from MLS general managers?  Laughter or outright profanity is the more likely response.

Yet all but the last ‘deal’ would actually be cheaper for TFC than keeping De Rosario at his present salary, much less the kind of money he is looking for.

What of Europe, you say?  Where bit players and also rans make millions…  Well, world football below the elite leagues (where most MLS players would fall) follows Adam Smith’s efficient market theory as closely as it can.

Chelsea or Man City might overpay recklessly for an asset, but Doncaster, Hereford or Brighton & Hove cannot.

Put another way, if any club anywhere in the world believed De Rosario was an undervalued asset they would move on him immediately. None have.

When we take a cold hard look at what quality MLS players earn, it becomes abundantly clear that De Rosario is already compensated at a more than fair level.

One can even make the case that he is overpaid.  Interim GM Earl Cochrane is rumoured to have tried quietly shopping De Rosario’s contract around the league late last year (after the famous check writing stunt, which understandably outraged the MLSE board) and found no takers.

At $443,750, is there any wonder?


6 responses to “Dwayne De Rosario – To pay or not to pay?”

  1. Aljarov says:

    In cap terms but DeRo and JDG have the exact same cap hit, namely the league max cap hit of $335k (whether a DP or not).

  2. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Can someone please explain to me why de Guzman, a holding mid, was paid so much and given the DP status by TFC in the first place? His contract totally threw the club’s salary structure out of whack. It seems to me that we wouldn’t be having this discussion if MLSE acted responsibly and given JDG a reasonable contract in the first place. Giving such an extraordinary MLS contract out to a non scoring holding mid is laughable.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    THEO – I think a “lego league” like the MLS puts more emphasis on where a player has played as opposed to his current ability and what he can bring to the league team.

    IMO, the MLS suits who know nothing about the game saw that de Guzman played in the Bundesliga and La Liga and automatically fell for hype. Similar to failed Beckham experiment and Rafael Marquez (a naturall defender who lost his legs but great heading ability, yet somehow convinced the NYRB that he should take set pieces, play as a deel lying mid a la Pirlo or Xavi and be paid such high wages).

  4. John Bladen says:

    Theo;

    Absolutely correct. The reason why TFC did it is up for debate, but for my money the JDG move was solely meant to save the sinking ship that was Mo Johnston.

    There is nothing wrong with de Guzman that a more reasonable contract wouldn’t ‘fix’. Nonetheless, he signed the big deal and must expect to be held to a higher standard. I do have some hope, though, in that the system Winter wants to play might suit de Guzman’s style very nicely. Let’s hope so.

  5. CACuzcatlan says:

    Soccerlogical, the teams bring in these players, not the league. MLS suits didn’t might have say into Beckham, but definitely not into DeGuzman. MLSE probably saw that he was the highest profile Candian player and wanted him for their team.

  6. CACuzcatlan – I would suggest that maybe it was a case of some MLSE officials spending too much time reading TFC chat boards.

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