The league released the names of all Re-Entry eligible players yesterday. Chris Birchall, William Hesmer, Julius James, and Tony Tchani are on the list for the Crew. This doesn't mean that the players are gone, but the teams and players have until Thursday evening to agree on a new deal or they have to go through the reentry process. It seems unlikely that any of the players will be coming back, unless it's at a greatly reduced salary.
The list of players from other teams is where most of the intrigue is. Former Designated Players Julian De Guzman and Juan Pablo Angel are both out of contract. Both will have to take significant pay cuts to get teams interested. There are a couple of left backs on the list as Fire stalwart Gonzalo Segares and former Crew man Josh Gardner had their options declined.
Given the rules of Stage One of the draft, that player option must be exercised, the Crew are likely looking for a value or meeting a very specific need. Gardner or Segares fit the need for a left back. Segares earned over $200,000 last year. It will be tough for any club to pull the trigger at that amount. Gardner seems the more likely pick. He made $55,000 and his option is likely very affordable.
Going beyond specific needs, there are a couple interesting players who might be useful with the right contract. Khari Stephenson is a good pro but 2012 base salary approached $200,000, far too rich for teams trying to get within the MLS Salary Budget. He falls into the good player at a high dollar contract camp. Blair Gavin is a more affordable player ($60,000) who can fill a couple holes in midfield. Bryan Jordan also fits the "value pick" label. He made an affordable $55,000 last year.
The free agents aren't likely to attract too much interest yet. Free agents have to receive a Bona Fides Offer from the selecting team, a percentage of their 2012 salary. The aforementioned De Guzman and Angel would have to agree to significantly lower pay to fit into the Crew budget. Justin Mapp would provide some value at left midfield, but he made over $200,000 in 2012. That's too rich for a team looking to get younger.
Stage two is where the draft gets more interesting. Teams will get to renegotiate with some of the players on the list. Some of the less affordable players may be worth a second look. This is where someone like Mapp gets more appealing.