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The Deep Salary Dive: Part 1

Remember that deep dive in the the Red Bulls' payroll I promised last week? Well here's the first part.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Before we start, it's probably worth noting that I'm not a mathematician or a statistician. I'm not a numbers guy by any stretch. I got a degree in communication. My real job is at a newspaper. If there are any issues with my math, let me know and I'll fix it.

For those who don't know, the MLS Players' Union periodic publication of salary data is like Christmas morning for MLS bloggers. We seldom, if ever, get a peek into the league's finances. Transfer fees, unless a player is sold are never disclosed, unless the buyer or seller is abroad and makes that information public. Allocation money, when it's swapped, is "a small amount" or "a large amount," never an actual number. And that's only in the rare moments where get get something approximating an amount. When it's awarded, we never know how much.

Plus, we get a ton of hits because of it, which strokes our egos and feeds our narcissism. Though the reason these posts are so popular is because of all the reasons listed above. MLS roster rules are byzantine if you don't have a decent background in how both American sports and soccer work. Your American MLS newbie will be surprised the norm is buying and selling players, not trading. The prospective European fan will scratch their heads at the idea of a salary cap or a draft.

Anyway, this post is one of two I'm putting together on the Red Bulls payroll. This first one is just basic, the size of the payroll, who gets paid the most, who gets paid the least, any oddities and some other figures I think are interesting. The second will be an even deeper dive into some of the team's most prominent players.

So without further ado, here's the first of the two parter.

First, the logical place to start: What's the total size of the 28 player payroll.

Total Base Payroll Total Guaranteed Payroll
$10,008,068.42 $10,860,960.17

As noted last week, that's the league's biggest number. Unsurprisingly, the LA Galaxy come in second, with a $9.02 million base payroll. The Seattle Sounders come in third with a $5.4 million base payroll.

And some basic statistical information:

Mean Salary Median Salary
$378.891.42 $78,250

Both the above figures are based off guaranteed salary numbers. The above figures make it pretty clear the salaries are skewed by the salaries of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, both of whom get paid several million more than their teammates, as we see below...

Player Base Guaranteed
Thierry Henry $3,750,000 $4,350,000
Tim Cahill $3,500,000 $3,625,000
Heath Pearce $331,236 $340,736
Jamison Olave $275,000 $325,000
Dax McCarty $180,000 $222,500

So, unsurprisingly, Henry is the best paid player on the team and Cahill comes in second. Pearce, who's been in Head Coach Mike Petke's doghouse as of late, and Jamison Olave round out the top four. Then things get tricky. McCarty is the fifth highest paid player on the team when you sort by guaranteed compensation, which is what I sorted by as it's the total dollar amount a player will earn per year of their contract by playing soccer.

But, when you sort by base salary, McCarty drops to eighth. Jumping ahead of him is Digao (yes, Digao) who is being paid $200,000 base, with no additional guaranteed compensation, despite having played a grand total of one minute his entire career as a Red Bull. Juninho also brings in $200,000 with no extras. That's good for a tie for fourth. Markus Holgersson's $199,500 trumps McCarty's $180,000 base, too, but Holgersson has no additional compensation.

Interestingly enough, the same thing happens when you talk about the league as a whole. When you're just talking about base compensation, the Galaxy's Robbie Keane is the league's highest paid player, earning $4 million, leaving Henry a mere quarter million dollars short of his former Premier League colleague. But when you take into account guaranteed compensation, Henry's $4.35 million catapults the Frenchman over Keane ever so slightly (Keane's paid $4.33 million guaranteed).

While McCarty earns more from playing soccer than Digao, Juninho and Holgersson, but his base salary isn't as high. Same deal for Henry and Keane, but I consider both McCarty and Henry better paid than Keane and Digao, Juninho and Holgersson respectively, but some of my SBNation colleagues seem to disagree, as they list players by base salary rather than guaranteed compensation.

The team's bottom five earners are easier. There's no additional compensation for any of the players

Player Base Guaranteed
Ruben Bover $35,125 $35,125
Santiago Castano $35,125 $35,125
Rafhael Domingues $35,125 $35,125
Amando Moreno $35,125 $35,125
Marius Obekop $35,125 $35,125

The Red Bulls two draft picks, Ian Christianson and Michael Bustamante, are both paid a bit better, earning $46,500.00 base with no extras.

When calculating by position, some additional work has to be done. In the union's list, Brandon Barklage and Roy Miller are listed as defenders, Bustamante is listed as a defender/midfielder and Lloyd Sam is listed as a forward. Adding Barklage and Miller to the defense corps (both are primarily fullbacks), Bustamante to the midfielders (it's where he played in college) and Sam to the midfielders (I don't think he's played a minute as a forward as a Red Bull) you get these numbers...

Position Base Guaranteed
Goalkeepers $221,625 $232,875
Defenders $1,349,481.00 $1,419,622.75
Midfielders $4,319,117.50 $4,490,617.50
Forwards $4,117,844.92 $4,717,844.92

Logic would dictate that the goalkeepers, when taken together, would get paid the least, as there are only four of them. What is somewhat surprising is that no goalie costs more than $75,000 base, a bit less than the team's median salary. The man earning that would be Luis Robles, who gets an extra $2,500 guaranteed. Ryan Meara gets paid $65,000 base and $66,250 guaranteed. MLS veteran Kevin Hartman signed on for a mere $46,500, but gets $54,000 guaranteed. It's not clear if the extra money comes from his coaching duties, as he signed on as Goalkeeping Development Manager.

Now for some of the more interesting measures. At the end of the day, the game comes down to who scores the most goals. So, then, how much are the Red Bulls paying per goal?

Player Goals Price Per Goal*
Thierry Henry 5 $870,000
Tim Cahill 3 $1,208,333.33
Fabian Espindola 3 $50,000
Jamison Olave 3 $108,333.33
Dax McCarty 2 $111,250
Jonny Steele 1 $79,000
Eric Alexander 1 $70,867.50
Lloyd Sam 1 $130,000

*Goal/Guaranteed Salary

So Espindola is the best bargain there, with his $150,000 salary (both base and guaranteed). The Red Bulls are paying $1.2 million per goal from Cahill, putting him on the high end.

But not everybody is out there to score goals. Breaking down how much the Red Bulls are paying per minute gives a little bit better idea if the Red Bulls are paying their best contributors well.

Player Minutes** Price Per Minute***
Luis Robles 1170 $66.24
Markus Holgersson 990 $201.52
Eric Alexander 980 $72.31
Tim Cahill 961 $3,772.11
Jonny Steele 894 $88.37
Heath Pearce 891 $382.42
Thierry Henry 868 $5,011.52
Fabian Espindola 860 $174.42
Jamison Olave 853 $381.01
Brandon Barklage 812 $87.97
Dax McCarty 810 $274.69
Juninho 774 $258.40
Roy Miller 697 $177.54
Kosuke Kimura 475 $210.53
Peguy Luyindula 297 $269.36
Lloyd Sam 259 $501.93

**Minimum 200 minutes, ***Minutes/Guaranteed Salary

To see the spreadsheet I based this post off, see here, where you can see salaries for players I didn't list, because it'd be awkward to shoehorn even more numbers into this post.

Thoughts? Comments?