On Tuesday, Sporting Kansas City lost both Jimmy Medranda and Adrian Zendejas to MLS expansion side Nashville SC. Medranda was selected in the MLS Expansion Draft and Zendejas was traded immediately after it. However, it later came out the whole thing was essentially a package deal.
I, like many others who follow Sporting KC, spent a lot of time on social media and in the comments section here on The Blue Testament battling out why this was a bad deal, good deal or somewhere in between.
Now that I’ve tried to take my heart out of the equation (who doesn’t love Jimmy freaking Medranda?) and use my head more, maybe there is some defense to the moves.
Is Medranda the Same Player?
In 2018, Medranda suffered a catastrophic knee injury that caused him to make just 22 appearances (10 starts) over the last two MLS seasons combined. That’s after playing 33 games in 2017 (24 starts) and 28 games in 2016 (22 starts). It’s often said that a player never recovers from such an injury. Though, in my opinion, when they do, it takes more than a year to fully bounce back.
When Jimmy came back in 2019 he didn’t quite look like himself yet. Maybe he never will. We’ll only find out by watching him play in Nashville.
Were there Minutes for Medranda?
Let’s take a quick look at the midfield depth chart for Sporting KC. As of this moment, Sporting Kansas City are assured to have (barring a trade or transfer) Felipe Gutierrez, Roger Espinoza, Ilie Sanchez, Gianluca Busio, Felipe Hernandez, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal and Cameron Duke on their 2020 roster. Later today we’ll know if they picked up options on Benny Feilhaber and Gedion Zelalem.
It’s debatable if Medranda is even 5th in that rotation (assuming Benny is gone or I’d bump him to at least 6th). Hernandez could also easily be ahead of him.
Left back is much more questionable. Only Luis Martins is guaranteed through 2020 with SKC having an option to pick up Seth Sinovic’s contract for 2020. I’ve never liked Jimmy at left back as much as I’ve liked him in the midfield and he made just a single disastrous left back appearance in 2019 (against Minnesota United in the US Open Cup).
On the forward line, SKC are very thin, but Jimmy barely played there despite that. I have to think someone else (new acquisitions??) will fill that void.
It’s arguable that Medranda wouldn’t even see the field too much with all that competition at what appears to be his primary spot (midfield) based on sub appearances and SPR loans.
Let the Kids Play
As outlined above, Medranda staying on the team could block the chance to play for several of SKC’s Homegrown signings including Busio, Hernandez, Kuzain and Duke. Jimmy has spent seven years on Sporting KC and he’s only been a regular starter for two of those seasons. He’ll be 26 in February and there are lots of high potential youngsters ready to take his spot.
SKC Only had Team Control Until 2020
For both Medranda and goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas, Sporting KC only had team options through 2020. After next season, they could walk for free. I’d say it’s plausible that, if they aren’t in the team’s long-term plans, that moving them now for something ($100K GAM, $125K TAM and an international spot) is a lot better than letting them walk in 2020 for nothing. Especially if there are no minutes to go around.
Graham Smith Over Medranda and/or Zendejas?
I’ll admit, this one is tough. I like Graham Smith but we found out in 2019 that his floor is really low and it’s very unclear how high his ceiling is. The issue is really the team would have just had three center backs (and Andreu Fontas is out until past the start of the 2020 season) if Smith was taken.
He might not be a world beater, but he’s decent depth on a super cheap deal. In addition, Smith is under team control until 2021, so he can’t just walk at the end of the season unless SKC decline his option.
One hole in this Smith being cheap depth theory is there are guys like Kaveh Rad who are in the SKC Academy, Sporting own his Homegrown rights and he could be signed for a similar deal and he’s younger with a greater upside. Then again, he just committed to going to college at North Carolina State University, so maybe he doesn’t want a low level pro contract.
Eric Dick Over Zendejas?
I don’t rate Dick higher than AZ. But if we look at contracts, SKC have Dick through 2021 as well (which is one more year than Adrian). Plus, in the USL Championship (where both played more extensively with the Swope Park Rangers) Dick actually had a drastically higher save percentage than Zendejas. Maybe SKC think they can fix Dick’s terrible distribution with his feet and make him surpass AZ in quality.
But Jimmy is a Jack of All Trades!
Yeah, I’ve got no defense for this. It’s great having utility players in the 18 that can play on all three lines. This is a tough argument to fight back against. I actually made the case over the weekend why not protecting Jimmy is a huge mistake. We’ll see if the weekend version of me or the mid-week version of me is more correct.
Regardless, the trade/draft have happened and there is no going back. For at least one more season, I say we give Peter Vermes the benefit of the doubt and see how things shake out.