Although the Vancouver Whitecaps have until December 31st to renew contracts or pick up the option, it is common for teams to make their announcements earlier rather than later, to give the players an opportunity to find other employment.
While some teams have already made their player announcements, which has led to rumors of potential new right backs, the Whitecaps have yet to announce decisions on all their expiring contracts. We know that loaned players Fraser Aird and Jordan Smith were returned to Rangers FC and Saprissa respectively, that Pedro Morales’ option will not be picked up, and Blas Perez is probably, unsurprisingly, not coming back.
Still outstanding are the expiring contracts of Kekuta Manneh, Nicolas Mezquida, Tim Parker, Paolo Tornaghi (contract option), and Marco Carducci.
There have certainly been fears over the past few seasons that Manneh would be sold in the not-too-distant future, based on his initial trajectory. However, his injury issues over the past season may be a blessing in disguise for Whitecaps fans. I suspect that while there is interest in Manneh abroad, he is probably at a buy-low point and thus I expect Whitecaps fans to get at least another season or two out of the young speedster.
Mezquida has been a polarizing player during his tenure with the Whitecaps. There have been some, like myself, who have been strong advocates of him seeing more playing time, while others do not see his potential. When given more playing time near the end of the 2016 season, Mezquida did not seem to flourish. To be fair, the entire team was in a tailspin, however, I think the question marks are valid around whether Mezauida is suited to a first-string playmaker role or whether he is better as a support player. No matter the opinion, in a salary cap league, a player who is being debated as a starter or important depth should be kept when making only $60,000; although a raise is undoubtedly coming.
Tim Parker had a great first season but many felt he regressed slightly during his sophomore campaign. Despite that regression, I believe many, if not all, still see him as an important cog in the Whitecaps back line. I have even suggested a Edgar/Parker pairing might be more successful for the Whitecaps than Edgar/Waston. How much time he sees next season is a question for another article, but for today, I see no reason why he would not be resigned (and protected in the expansion draft).
The last two candidates are keepers Paolo Tornaghi (option) and Carducci. Tornaghi finally got his first MLS start for the Whitecaps, despite being with the team for two seasons. He doesn’t make a lot of money, but he does take up a roster spot. This, combined with him being a late addition to the squad last season, suggests that his time with the Whitecaps is over. However, Carducci complicates that decision. Many probably expected Carducci to play backup to Ousted for 2016. Instead Carducci spent a lot of time away from the club for international competitions. When he was in Vancouver, he often played second fiddle to Richey for the Thundercaps. So much so that some have suggested Richey will take over for Ousted once he moves on. If Richey is the plan of the future, does Tornaghi stay another season with Carducci being released? Are both kept, as Carducci does not cost much, certainly has potential, and fills that important "supporting young Canadian players" card. If the cost is not too high, Having Ousted, Tornaghi, Carducci, and Richey is not a bad thing. Let the two young guys battle it out with the ThunderCaps rather than sitting on the bench for the Whitecaps and make a decision next off-season. What do you think?
After a disappointing season, there is often calls to blow up the entire team and start over. We can debate the sanity of that thought-process at another time. In the case of the Vancouver Whitecaps, expect to see a lot of the same players as last season as there are not a lot of (simple) options to get rid of contracts. Hopefully we see a few new DP players though to complement the existing core!
What are your thoughts on the expiring contracts? Do you feel they should be retained? Let us know.