The entire team is under scrutiny as end of season interviews commence.
The roster is in a state of flux. The season is over, but there is still late season training as the staff is prepping to conduct the end of the season interviews. These interviews will be the first moves of the off season as the team trims the roster and players look
The staff and front office has been tight lipped with contract statuses, but the Dispatch's Adam Jardy has learned that Danny O'Rourke, Sebastian Miranda and Carlos Mendes are out of contract. Miranda is the big name there. He started 33 games at right back. Even though he will turn 33 next year, it's likely that resigning Miranda is high on the team's off season to do list.
Miranda has settled well in Columbus and now has fellow Chilean Milovan Mirosevic in town. He may be looking for one final contract before returning home to finish his career. If that's the case, then he and the Crew could quickly strike a deal to keep him in town.
Danny O'Rourke and Carlos Mendes are more interesting cases. O'Rourke will turn 30 next year and injuries have limited him to 21 games last year after coming off a 2011 season where he made 6 appearances. His knee problems are likely to be chronic for the rest of his career. It may also be a question to whether O'Rourke wants to keep grinding away. The 31 year old Mendes was also limited by injury to 12 games. He was expected to have a big role at center back this year, but Josh Williams emergence an his age may cause the team to move in a different direction.
The team also has options on nearly all of the players on the roster. Some like Williams or Cole Grossman are all but assured to to be picked up, there are several players that the Crew holds options on who's future isn't so clear. William Hesmer, Dilly Duka, and Nemanja Vukovic each face some uncertainty heading into 2013. Vukovic is all but assured of being let go. It's clear that Robert Warzycha doesn't like his play.
Hesmer and Duka are different cases. Hesmer is likely to make at least $170,000. He's a fine goalkeeper, but it coming off of injury and the emergence of Andy Gruenebaum makes his roster status tenuous. If the team declines his option, he's eligible to go into the reentry draft. Duka's option will be picked up, but he's the subject of quite a few trade rumors. He may have worn out his welcome in Columbus.
The names you won't see on the transaction wire are the rare players with multi-year guaranteed contracts. Designated Player Federico Higuain is signed through the 2014 season. Forward Jairo Arrieta got a guaranteed deal when he joined the team on pre-contract terms earlier this season. Both of the team's mid season impact players will be in Black and Gold for a while.
It's unclear whether Mirosevic or Olman Vargas have similar contracts. Mirosevic, who started 25 games his first year with the team, will be back in any event. Vargas was a starter early in the year before picking up an injury and then falling down the pecking order. His return may hinge on whether he's guaranteed another year.
Any decisions the team makes will be prompted by the players 2013 cap numbers as determined by the league. These are based off the players salaries, but take into account bonuses and other compensation figures. It appears to be more art than science from the view outside the league offices.
With raises and bonuses, the team will again have to delicately work around the salary cap. Tweaking the roster is a first step to solidifying the defense and improving team depth. Cutting out a few contracts to clear room for the future takes balancing the value of the player and the budget number he costs. It's the cold reality of the business of team building.