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Breaking Down the Benny Feilhaber Compensation

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The trade for Benny Feilhaber was leaked (partially by Benny) way before an official announcement was put out by Sporting Kansas City or the Colorado Rapids. Partly because the compensation is pretty complicated. Let’s break it all down, piece by piece.

What Sporting KC Got

  • Midfielder Benny Feilhaber
  • Salary Budget Relief
  • Waiver Order position swap

What the Rapids Got

  • Central Defender Abdul Rwatubyaye
  • A 2019 International Roster Spot
  • $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money
  • SKC’s natural 2020 Second Round Pick

What is Salary Budget Relief?

Let’s break down the parts of the deal that are more convoluted. Here is the quote from the press release:

“Feilhaber will serve as Sporting Kansas City’s season-ending injury replacement player for Rodney Wallace. Colorado will retain the player’s 2019 salary budget charge less the $250,000 of salary budget relief afforded to Sporting Kansas City for a season-ending injury replacement player.”

When it was announced that Rodney Wallace was out for 4-6 months, it essentially ended his season. This move officially does that. Wallace was placed on the Season-Ending Injury List and that frees up his roster spot (though the club still owes him his full salary). They also executed a move by making Feilhaber the Season-Ending Injury Replacement Player. Here is what the MLS Roster Rules say about that mechanism and all the criteria that must be considered.

- The injured player must be earning at least $100,000 per annum.

- The injured player must have suffered the season-ending injury prior to the close of the Primary Transfer Window and the new player must be signed as of such date.

- The Season-Ending Injury Replacement Player may earn up to $250,000 but not more than the player who suffered the season-ending injury.

- The club is ultimately responsible for the payment of the replacement player’s salary (which will not be charged to the club’s budget).

- Clubs will only be allowed to sign one such Season-Ending Injury Replacement Player a year.

So what we know is that Wallace must be earning over $100,000 (he made $300,000.08 in 2018). The move was obviously made before the Primary Transfer window closed last night. And Benny is only making $250,000 from SKC, with Colorado picking up the balance of his salary (Benny made $625,000.00 in 2018, but due to arcane MLS rules must make less in 2019 since he left Los Angeles Football Club).

Even with Colorado picking up a good chunk of salary, they are still likely to come out ahead as Rwatubyaye is sure to make at or near the league minimum wage. Not to mention they picked up a young prospect for an aging vet and acquired other assets in the process.

What About the Waiver Order Swap?

The other piece that Sporting KC acquired was a swap in the Waiver Order with the Colorado Rapids. The concept of waiver is familiar to American sports fans. If a player is cut, they have to pass through waivers before being free for anyone to sign. Here is how Waiver Order is determined:

“The Waiver Order is based on points per game once all clubs have played at least three MLS League games. If the Waiver takes place prior to all clubs playing in at least three League games, priority is granted based upon the previous year’s performance, taking playoff performance first, with clubs eliminated from playoff contention at the same stage separated according to their point totals through the end of the regular season.”

So essentially, the worst your team is, the higher up the list you are when a player is released. The Colorado Rapids currently are dead last in the entire league with just two points through 10 games (one point of which they got off SKC). They are six points clear of the next teams (New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati who have eight each).

That means Sporting KC will have first priority for as long as Colorado is in last (one assumes for just the remainder of this season). And it seems safe to assume Sporting KC will finish ahead of Colorado regardless, so even if the Rapids climb out of the basement, SKC will still have a higher waiver priority.

Since Feilhaber takes up Wallace’s roster spot and Rwatubyaye is gone, that leaves Sporting with just 27 players counting against their roster total. They could potentially claim up to three players but are more likely to save at least a majority of those spots for future transfers.

The Blue Testament will have more on the Feilhaber trade and all things Sporting Kansas City as the 2019 season continues.