Earnie Stewart is a very smart business man, which is why he is the teams first ever sporting director. He is known for getting the most bang for a teams buck, or playing Moneyball, and he did just that in this summer transfer window. Albeit, Stewart did wait for the last day of the window to reveal any of the potential moves, something that was unheard of in the past for the Union. Many Philly fans thought the Union were being cheap, and didn’t think the Union would bring anyone in to help the team this window. As the last day came, there were the first transfer rumors, and it was about a familiar player.
Alejandro Bedoya was linked to the Union last summer before the end of the transfer window. He and the Union were in talks, but an agreement couldn’t come to fruition. Fast forward a year and the day before the transfer window closed, leaks of Bedoya to the Union were everywhere. There were also tweets from Chicago showing the Fire had interest in Bedoya. The next morning, the day the window closed, FC Nantes Bedoya’s old club tweeted a farewell to Bedoya. In the farewell tweet they said he would be joining MLS side Philadelphia Union.
To get Bedoya Philly had to do a deal with Chicago, since they were higher in the MLS allocation spot. The Union sent Chicago two different types of allocation money, their 1st round draft pick in this coming 2017 draft, rights to a Union discovery list player, and Philly’s allocation spot for Bedoya. Bedoya is a helpful midfielder who can play the wing, the 10, or the 8; his versatility and mentality make him and ideal designated player for Philadelphia. The deal was done and an official press release was sent out by the Union, and fans were on cloud nine until later that night that is.
At around nine o’clock EST at night there were rumblings of a trade that would send a Union player to a western conference team. A half an hour later the player’s name arose on twitter. Fan-favorite Sebastien Le Toux was being sent to Colorado for Allocation money. This move came as a shock, as Seba was actually contributing regularly off the bench, and many fans thought other players who were playing more poorly be sent away. As heartbreaking as this move was for the fans, It was another Moneyball move.
Stewart and the Union staff were not done wheeling and dealing. At 11:30 EST there were reports of the Union making a trade with an eastern conference team. A few minutes later the team and player was revealed. The Union were looking to trade for New England revolution striker Charlie Davies. This deal was probably negotiated right into the dying hours of the transfer window, but no official word came until the following morning. At nine am the deal was made official by New England. The Union sent New England two types of allocation money, and their first round pick in the 2018 draft. The Union also got the Revolution’s third round pick in the 2018 draft. So the Union brought in Bedoya, Davies, a 2018 third round pick, and allocation money, and gave away two types of allocation money, their 2017 and 2018 1st round picks, and Sebastian Le Toux. So how is this Moneyball?
It’s Moneyball because of the break down of money spent on these players, money brought into the club, and utilization of draft picks. The Union actually lost two players this season: Vincent Nogueira, and Sebastian Le Toux. Both of their salaries was around the amount the owe Bedoya; also, Davies salary is half of Le Toux’s. So the combination of Nogueira and Le Toux salary pays for almost all of Bedoya. The money brought in from Le Toux’s trade covers Davies and covers the rest of Bedoya’s salary. This is ridiculously smart on the Union’s part; see why here. They don’t have to worry about dipping too far into their own pockets to pay their new players, they actually accumulated profit from the deals they did.
The players brought into the club, Bedoya and Davies, are in their prime. Bedoya is a starter on the USA’s mens national team, and Davies is a former US national team player. More importantly they have ties to each other and to a Union player already. Bedoya and Davies played together in college at Boston College, so they have a chemistry already. Both of these players also have ties to Maurice Edu. Edu and Davies played on the national team together, and have a great friendship. Bedoya and Edu played on rangers together, and did things like this! Needless to say, these new players should feel right at home.
Now the Union did trade away their next two first round draft picks but look at the return value; two quality players in their prime! The Union are showing that their young draft picks they got this year (Yaro,Rosenberry, and Herbers) are good enough players to feature for years to come. It also shows that they are going all in on their academy system. With Derrick Jones being the first signing to come from the academy, they can see a process that can produce first team quality right after players are done in the academy system. It’s a bold move, but the Union do have academy players that are showing real promise. And now with Earnie Stewart at the helm, these young players actually want to play for the first team.
The Union made moves in this window, and showed all the fans that said the team were cheap that they aren’t. The Union are now a smartly run, moneyballing, business. This window showed that the Union will be aggressive, and get quality players that fit their system. They will do this by spending money smartly, and not just throw money at player without really thinking things through. Only time will tell if these moves will generate success, but at the moment it looks like the Union just got a whole lot better!
Photo credit: CLAUDE PARIS/AP