Bořek Dočkal was the signing Union fans have been waiting for, but the team quietly announced another transaction, buying down the contract of the team’s other big offseason acquistion, David Accam, using discretionary target allocation money.
For those who want a quick summary of allocation money in MLS, general allocation money or GAM is money from the league for things like signing and re-signing players, buying down player cap hits, loan fees, etc. target allocation money or TAM is also provided by the league and can be used to sign new players and re-sign players at a higher salary than allowed for non-Designated Players. Discretionary TAM is bought into by the team, and provides the same benefits as normal TAM.
MLS provided each team a total of $1.2 million in TAM this year, with an option to purchase up to $2.8 million in discretionary TAM.
However, buying down a player using TAM to free up a Designated Player slot is not straightforward. Per the MLS Rules on the new 2018 allocation money totals, “Targeted Allocation Money may be used to convert a current Designated Player to a non-Designated Player by buying down, on a prorated basis, his salary budget charge to at, or below, the maximum salary budget charge. If Targeted Allocation Money is used to free up a Designated Player slot, the club must simultaneously sign a new Designated Player at an investment equal to or greater than the player he is replacing.” In a nutshell, the Union had to make this move alongside the Dočkal deal.
But the reasoning behind the Accam move was a strategic one. Each club may hold up to three Designated Players in a season, but a fee of $150,000 is charged to teams who use all three slots. This move, along with the acquisition of $175,000 in GAM from NYCFC in exchange for an international slot, is a sign the club could be saving in case a midseason acquisition is required due to injury or a position of need is identified.
We’ll be able to dig more into the numbers when the salary information is released later this spring. Accam, who is under contract through 2020, made $820,937 in guaranteed compensation last season. Only Alejandro Bedoya had a higher salary for the Union at $1,197,250 in guaranteed compensation.