With under a week to go until the start of the 2013 season, Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth has penned another letter to fans.
Unlike some past letters, this edition doesn't have too much big news. I did, however, find this somewhat backhanded reference to Freddy Adu's contract noteworthy:
The reality was that we only had a couple of roster spots available, which meant that we had to let go of some guys that we really liked and thought could potentially make really good professionals.
Add in the fact that Freddy still occupies a spot on our roster, and that means that there is one less player to put on it. While we continue to work to correct that situation and don’t want to keep harping on it, I think it is important for you to fully understand the parameters under which we’re working.
Having thus far been unable to move Adu within or outside of MLS, the Union are faced with these options: buy Adu out, trade Adu within MLS and eat some of his salary, or continue paying Adu without playing him.
As ESPN's Jeff Carlisle pointed out last week, the last of those options may turn out to be the cheapest. Adu's guaranteed salary is $519,000, and his contract is guaranteed for two more years. The total cost of a buyout would be approximately $1.3 million.
Any trade of Adu within MLS would surely result in the Union paying much of Adu's salary while he plays for another team. That wouldn't be especially palatable unless the Union got something big in return, and given the team's desire to offload the player, that probably wouldn't happen.
If, as seems increasingly likely, the Union keep Adu on their roster, here's the scenario. Because MLS salaries are paid collectively by all of the league's owners, an individual team's financial investment in Designated Player is really just the dollar value above the DP salary cap hit of $367,000. That means the Union-specific investment in Adu is $152,000.
Now, you could make the argument that if the Union really cared enough about freeing up that roster spot, they'd buy out Adu's contract.
Hackworth brought up the roster spot issue last week when asked about some of the foreign trialists that have been in the Union's preseason training camp. It could well be that if the Union can't get rid of Adu by the March 1 roster compliance deadline, a promising talent - such as Real Madrid youth academy product Jordi Vival - may be cut.
Anyway, here's a look at Hackworth's letter. It ran as a full-page ad in Sunday's Inquirer. You can read the full text on the Union's website here.