The San Jose Earthquakes announced what they intend to do with their available contract options prior to the re-entry draft, which begins December 16, per league policy. Here are the details:
Exercised 2017 Option: David Bingham (GK), Victor Bernardez (CB), Kip Colvey (LB), Andres Imperiale (CB), Fatai Alashe (CDM), Matheus Silva (CDM)
Option Declined: Bryan Meredith (GK), Clarence Goodson (CB), Marc Pelosi (CM/LM), Tommy Thompson (CAM/RM), Chad Barrett (ST), Henok Goitom (ST), Innocent (ST/LW), Steven Lenhart (ST), Mark Sherrod (ST)
Already Under Contract for 2017: Andrew Tarbell (GK), Shaun Francis (LB), Cordell Cato (RB/RM), Darwin Ceren (CDM), Simon Dawkins (LM), Anibal Godoy (CDM), Shea Salinas (LM), Quincy Amarikwa (ST), Chris Wondolowski (ST)
No Status Declared*: Marvell Wynne (RB/CB), Sanna Nyassi (RM), Leandro Barrera (LM), Kofi Sarkodie (RB), Jordan Stewart (LB)
*based on team policy, this implies they are not under contract for 2017 and do not have options to exercise
Many of these decisions are self-explanatory and/or expected. Bingham, Bernardez, and Alashe are core parts of the first team. Colvey and Silva are worthy developmental projects. Imperiale is a cheap and versatile backup. None of the declined options played a significant role in 2016, either due to injury or ineffectual performances. And of course, there's the "hallelujah" moment when we finally got confirmation that Innocent's $1.3M/yr albatross of a contract was finally removed from the books.
There are a few interesting things to note, however:
Mark Pelosi and Tommy Thompson are two young Americans who were long hyped for potential greatness, but neither of them had their option picked up. CenterLine's own Robert Jonas had the clarification:
A team source confirmed that both Tommy Thompson and Marc Pelosi are in advanced contract talks to return to the @SJEarthquakes next season.— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) December 2, 2016
For me, that make sense. Both players didn't play to the value of their contracts in 2016 (Pelosi due to injury), and the team will likely be seeking to get a better deal on both. I also suspect that their options may have included a pay increase, which is common for the last year of a deal. With exclusive negotiating rights and strong local ties, I wouldn't be surprised to see both of them back in fairly short order. One thing to note: I don't believe that homegrown players contracts are off-book once they've signed their second contract, so I would expect Tommy's next deal to count against the salary cap.
The only other interesting decline, for me, is Clarence Goodson, although I should be clear it was not unexpected. The option would likely have been in the ballpark of his current $350k/yr deal, which is far too much to pay for an aging center-back who missed almost the entire 2016 season through a back injury. Based on what I know, I don't think he'll be looking to move to any other MLS club (or abroad for that matter), and therefore the two likely options are negotiating a reduced deal with the club or retiring. It'll depend significantly on his health report. One thing to note: Goodson does not qualify for MLS free agency because he has one too few years of service in the league, meaning the Quakes hold on to his exclusive negotiating rights.
The truly interesting group, for me, are the players who are flat-out out-of-contract. Marvell Wynne was arguably the team's best defender last year, and although I advocated for him to have his option declined if it was in the $250k/yr range, I could see him being a very good value for the club if they can get him on a reduced deal. He is, however, eligible for free agency, so the Quakes might have to win a bidding war to get him back. Kofi Sarkodie was a strong value as a backup last year, but it looks like the club will have to make him a new offer to keep him, and may well have to pay a bit more for the privilege. Sanna Nyassi was more or less released from the club prior to the 2016 season, as was Leandro Barrera, so neither of those were surprises. Jordan Stewart finds himself at the end of his one-year deal, and that one is probably a matter of whether or not he wants to continue his playing career. I could totally see him as a future coach, and his leadership and veteran presence is valuable, but it's hard to imagine him being a starting-quality left back this far into his 30s.
Alberto Quintero, of course, was never under permanent contract at the club, and it is yet to be seen whether the Quakes can make a deal at a price they can stomach with both his parent club and the player himself. Quintero has suggested he wants to stay in San Jose, but my reading of the tea leaves from Kaval & Co. leads me to believe the finances are looking harder to work out than they had imagined.
Stay tuned for what happens in the next phase of roster moves, which include two rounds of re-entry draft, an expansion draft, the SuperDraft, and, of course, any discovery signings or trades that the team will utilize to fill their two now-empty DP slots.
You can see an updated spreadsheet of where the Quakes contract commitments stand here.