The Ideal Roster Construction - or "What to do with all that TAM?"

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The article linked below got me thinking about how to construct the ideal roster for 2018 based on the salaries you would pay up and down the line.

The article posits that all the new TAM is designed not just to increase spending, but also to add flexibility in how to spend. Instead of burning $15 million on 3 great DPs, a team can now spread a lot of that around a larger number of TAM players. Indeed, the article posits that many teams will forego a 3rd DP in favor of multiple TAM players.

So, what would your ideal roster look like?

Here are the parameters you have in 2018.
  • The total salary budget for the whole roster is $4,035,000.
  • The maximum budget charge for any player is $504,375.
  • The minimum budget charge for senior roster players is $68,325.
  • You can have 0-3 DPs and pay them all you want, but each carry a budget charge equal to the maximum.
  • You can spend $5.2 million in TAM.*
  • The TAM can be used for any player making between the maximum budget charge and $1.5 million.
  • TAM players will be bought down between $150,000 and the maximum budget charge.
  • 20 players total will count against the salary budget.
  • Remaining players will make the league minimum.**
* - Technically, there is $4 million available in each of 2018 and 2019, but $1.2 million for 2019 can be brought forward into 2018, and most teams are expected to do this.
** - There are a few technical rules here regarding homegrown players and GA players, and some of that taking up TAM money, etc., but let's ignore for simplicity.

https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2017...ted-allocation-money-infusion-will-affect-mls
 
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For starters, here is an approximation of our roster from last year.
  • 3 DPs - $6 million, $6 million and $2 million - $1,441,875 budget charge
  • 3 TAM Players - $383,000, $377,000, and $320,000* - $1,080,000 budget charge**
  • 5 Players making > $175,000^ - $1,050,000 budget charge
  • 4 Players making > $100,000^^ - $444,000 budget charge
  • 5 Players making < $100,000# - $346,000 budget charge
  • 7 Players on supplemental and reserve roster## - $562,000 salary - $0 budget charge
Total salary budget charge: $4,361,875 (less any amounts bought down with TAM or GAM).

* - Chanot, Ring and Brillant; numbers shown are salary as full budget charge not disclosed.
** - Assumed based on salary alone; actual budget charge probably lower as players bought down with TAM.
^ - Johnson, Wallace, Matarrita, McNamara, Callens
^^ - Herrera, Shelton, Camargo, Allen
# - Lopez, Sweat, Stertzer, White, Struna
## - Harrison, Lewis, Rawls, Johansen, Awuah, Okoli, Gomez
 
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Here is one possible approach for 2018. I call it "3 DPs and a strong supporting cast."

  • 2 DPs - $6 million and $2 million - $1,008,750 budget charge
  • 4 TAM Players - averaging $1.45 million and bought down to $150,000 - $600,000 budget charge
  • 2 Players making > $350,000 - $760,000 budget charge
  • 6 Players making > $170,000 - $1,230,000 budget charge
  • 2 Players making > $100,000 - $234,000 budget charge
  • 3 Players making < $100,000 - $180,000 budget charge
  • 7 Players on supplemental and reserve roster - $0 budget charge
Total salary budget charge: $4,002,750 or about $30,000 below the limit.
 
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Here is one possible approach for 2018. I call it "3 DPs and a strong supporting cast."

  • 2 DPs - $6 million and $2 million - $1,008,750 budget charge
  • 4 TAM Players - averaging $1.45 million and bought down to $150,000 - $600,000 budget charge
  • 2 Players making > $350,000 - $760,000 budget charge
  • 6 Players making > $170,000 - $1,230,000 budget charge
  • 2 Players making > $100,000 - $234,000 budget charge
  • 3 Players making < $100,000 - $180,000 budget charge
  • 7 Players on supplemental and reserve roster - $0 budget charge
Total salary budget charge: $4,002,750 or about $30,000 below the limit.

Note that this could be our roster for 2018, assuming we made the following moves: (1) add 4 new TAM players on near max TAM compensation; (2) keep Chanot and Ring as non-TAM players (their salary is below league max); (3) add a new player at $190,000 or so (Ferraresi?); (4) fill in rest with salary minimum types; (5) do not add a 3rd DP.

I discovered a few things as I went through the exercise (which is why I think it is good to do).
  1. Players like Chanot and Ring are tricky. Their salary is not above the league max, but is close to it. We can only use TAM on them if there are other costs that raise their budget charge. This was likely a transfer fee in 2017, but (except for one player) those get expensed the year incurred. This suggests that you might only get to use TAM on these guys the first year, and that would make things hard because with TAM, their budget charge can be only $150,000, but without it, their budget charge would be about $380,000 each - a big change, and it may explain why we had to deal Freddie. It may also explain why Chanot is unprotected.
  2. Spending the full $5.2 million in TAM is not especially easy. I have it spread out over 4 guys, which is the minimum number if you are using all $5.2 million. That translates to a budget charge of $600,000 for these players, which is about 15% of the total. If a team signs guys costing only $1 million on average, then it needs 6 TAM players, which translates to a budget charge of $900,000, or 22% of the total.
  3. Importantly, note that fully using TAM requires a budget charge that's the equivalent to the budget charge of 1.2 to 1.8 designated players.
  4. Note also how revolutionary this is going to be to teams that want to take advantage. Last year, there were 68 players that had comp between $504,375 and $1.5 million, and 58 players listed as receiving TAM. That's about 3 per team, and most of those were making less than $750,000. To fully spend TAM, teams are going to have to go out and sign a lot of highly compensated players - maybe 3-4 each.
 
Note that this could be our roster for 2018, assuming we made the following moves: (1) add 4 new TAM players on near max TAM compensation; (2) keep Chanot and Ring as non-TAM players (their salary is below league max); (3) add a new player at $190,000 or so (Ferraresi?); (4) fill in rest with salary minimum types; (5) do not add a 3rd DP.

I discovered a few things as I went through the exercise (which is why I think it is good to do).
  1. Players like Chanot and Ring are tricky. Their salary is not above the league max, but is close to it. We can only use TAM on them if there are other costs that raise their budget charge. This was likely a transfer fee in 2017, but (except for one player) those get expensed the year incurred. This suggests that you might only get to use TAM on these guys the first year, and that would make things hard because with TAM, their budget charge can be only $150,000, but without it, their budget charge would be about $380,000 each - a big change, and it may explain why we had to deal Freddie. It may also explain why Chanot is unprotected.
  2. Spending the full $5.2 million in TAM is not especially easy. I have it spread out over 4 guys, which is the minimum number if you are using all $5.2 million. That translates to a budget charge of $600,000 for these players, which is about 15% of the total. If a team signs guys costing only $1 million on average, then it needs 6 TAM players, which translates to a budget charge of $900,000, or 22% of the total.
  3. Importantly, note that fully using TAM requires a budget charge that's the equivalent to the budget charge of 1.2 to 1.8 designated players.
  4. Note also how revolutionary this is going to be to teams that want to take advantage. Last year, there were 68 players that had comp between $504,375 and $1.5 million, and 58 players listed as receiving TAM. That's about 3 per team, and most of those were making less than $750,000. To fully spend TAM, teams are going to have to go out and sign a lot of highly compensated players - maybe 3-4 each.

Interesting write up. Is it a rational fear that I'm honestly terrified that you have possibly taken a deeper dive into this than anyone in our front office?

Adding another wrinkle, could we leverage the cap savings of signing DP3 in the summer when better players tend to be available into a benefit that allows us to get better TAM players at the start of the season. Additionally is there anyway to leverage a multi year benefit from it. 1/2 season DP would be a $252,187.50 cap hit in year 1 with a full $504,375 cap hit in year 2. So could we apply that extra $252,187.50 in year 1 to 3-4 TAM players in a way that lowers the TAM players cap hits in year 2 such that all 3-4 TAM players and DP3 still occupy a similar amount of cap space in year 2 even with the larger full year cap hit of DP3.
 
Interesting write up. Is it a rational fear that I'm honestly terrified that you have possibly taken a deeper dive into this than anyone in our front office?

Adding another wrinkle, could we leverage the cap savings of signing DP3 in the summer when better players tend to be available into a benefit that allows us to get better TAM players at the start of the season. Additionally is there anyway to leverage a multi year benefit from it. 1/2 season DP would be a $252,187.50 cap hit in year 1 with a full $504,375 cap hit in year 2. So could we apply that extra $252,187.50 in year 1 to 3-4 TAM players in a way that lowers the TAM players cap hits in year 2 such that all 3-4 TAM players and DP3 still occupy a similar amount of cap space in year 2 even with the larger full year cap hit of DP3.

No, that fear is not rational. They do this for a living. I do it because work is slow. Plus, they have all the information, and we are guessing at a lot.

Yes, we could leverage things by signing the DP in summer - but that would leave the question of what to do in 2019.