New York, NY (CNN) — Several days before the start of the new Major League Soccer season, the Toronto FC organization has been busy working to determine the future of at least two key members of the roster, starting with star defender Michael Bradley.
The midfielder signed a lucrative contract extension in the off-season, which is being used to begin taking down plans for renovations at BMO Field — the team’s home since 2015 — because it is well past its operational life.
Bradley earns $1.3 million a year, ranking him among the league’s highest paid players. He also has an additional $650,000 in incentives based on games started and minutes played.
The six-year extension that runs through 2023 was signed at the start of the offseason, with no option included. It was made with the MLS and its nine other teams rather than Toronto FC, which is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
The current deal was signed in 2015, which suggests that Toronto FC would have had the right to retain him under the terms. Since then, Bradley has missed two matches in the MLS season due to injury, and there has been no indication that he will return to the field this year.
This presents a problem for Toronto FC when it’s possible that he and other key players could be traded in order to cash in on a signee’s value.
USA Today sports columnist Dave Jobe reported last week that Toronto FC and Bradley were unable to agree on an extension because the club was unwilling to part with so much money.
BMO Field is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, not Toronto FC. Here Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco lay on the grass after a match
Kevin Molino (left) scored the game-winning goal for Toronto FC against Real Salt Lake, breaking through Salt Lake’s defense for the winning strike
Giovinco — the highest paid player in MLS and the other star on the team — recently reiterated his desire to remain with Toronto FC, at least for the coming season.
The problem is that fans may not agree with his terms.
Last January, he signed a contract extension that came with more than a $3 million annual bonus. So far, no one has publicly said he is willing to accept that deal. His $4.6 million annual salary is nearly twice that of the second highest paid player in MLS.
So now the focus is on Giovinco’s situation, and the continued inability of Toronto FC to extend his contract.
Many have speculated that the team will likely trade him so it can pocket $4.6 million (assuming it keeps all of its options on him).
The team is highly unlikely to trade Giovinco, with a restricted transfer fee nearly impossible to accept. In fact, the numbers just don’t add up: The team is likely to have to pay more than $10 million to simply sign him to a contract extension.
Plans for renovations
Then there’s goalkeeping.
Last year, the team’s average attendance was roughly 44,700, and supporters were angered by the work to renovate the stadium. With the renovations also blocking the tunnel that leads from the lower bowl to the top tier of the stadium, there were rumors that Team is going to ditch Rob Moor as its number one keeper and move up Tesho Akindele from second behind Eric Kronberg.
The move could play to the advantage of opponents in the upcoming season, but the team has yet to make a public statement or schedule any replacement games.
Both Bradley and Giovinco are just two of several contracts that the team will likely focus on renegotiating or trying to renegotiate.