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Despite being big spenders, LA Galaxy find more value overall in 2015

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Which Galaxy players are overpaid? Which Galaxy players are underpaid? Could the Galaxy really not afford to keep Marcelo Sarvas? All this and more!

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

MLS is a league divided between big spenders and penny-pinchers and part of the fun is there is relative league wide parity despite this paradigm.

With Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos gracing the roster, it's pretty clear where the LA Galaxy fall within this spectrum. Thanks to the deep pockets of AEG, and the ambition to become one of the best clubs in the world, the LA Galaxy are the gold standard of MLS big spending and now that the 2015 salary numbers have been released, we can take a closer look at just how the LA Galaxy handle their money.

Who's underpaid? Who's overpaid? Could we really not afford Sarvas?

Let's break it down by position

Forwards

Name

Pos

Base Salary

Compensation

Robbie Keane

F

$    4,500,000.00

$         4,500,000.00

Gyasi Zardes

F

$        150,000.00

$             223,000.00

Alan Gordon

F

$        175,000.00

$             175,000.00

Edson Buddle

F

$        100,000.00

$             106,250.00

Jose Villarreal

F

$          60,000.00

$               61,875.00

Bradford Jamieson

F

$          60,000.00

$               60,000.00

Charlie Rugg

F

$          60,000.00

$               60,000.00

Total

$         5,186,125.00

Robbie Keane makes a lot of money, but he also scores a lot of goals so it's money well spent. Alan Gordon makes a lot of money for a bench player, but  given his impact this year, it's hard to argue that money could be better spent elsewhere.

On the good value end is Jose Villarreal. He's been one of the league's best chance creators and the Galaxy are paying him league minimum. Bradford Jamieson IV has also had a large impact proportionate to his salary, but more on that later.

On the over-paid side is Edson Buddle. Bruce Arena loves his veterans and to be fair to Buddle, he's been injured (although we knew his injury history when we signed him), however, it's fair to say that he has yet to earn his keep.

Midfield

Name

Pos

Base Salary

Compensation

Steven Gerrard

M

$    6,200,004.00

$         6,332,504.00

Giovani dos Santos

M

$    4,000,008.00

$         4,100,008.00

Juninho

M

$        350,000.00

$             350,000.00

Mika Vayrynen

M

$        204,996.00

$             227,496.00

Baggio Husidic

M

$        125,000.00

$             125,000.00

Sebastian Lletget

M

$          95,000.04

$             100,500.04

Raul Mendiola

M

$          60,000.00

$               60,000.00

Rafael Garcia

M

$          60,000.00

$               60,000.00

Ignacio Maganto

M

$          60,000.00

$               60,000.00

Kenney Walker

M

$          60,000.00

$               60,000.00

Total



$       11,415,508.04

We'll save judgement of Gerrard and Gio for later in the season, but the rest of the Galaxy midfield is a kind of a mixed bag. Sebastian Lletget is probably the biggest bargain of the season. He's putting up dp numbers at a mere $100,500 salary. The Galaxy have also gotten quite a lot of value from Nacho.

Stefan Ishizaki is not listed but one can assume that his earnings would be close to the $213,000 reported last year. While everyone loved Ishikaki, his actual production never really justified his price tag, and in a league where every dollar counts, it's the type of signing that would absolutely punish a normal MLS team that doesn't get so much production from players that fall outside the cap (designated players). Ishikaki was not the first middle salary tier veteran European signing from the Galaxy that didn't live up to the price tag, and he certainly wouldn't be the last.

Then there is the elephant in the room. At the beginning of the year, the Galaxy let go of Marcelo Sarvas because they decided they could not pay him what he was asking. The Galaxy traded Sarvas to Colorado where he is now criminally overpaid with a guaranteed contract of $425, 000. Now I love Sarvas, but there is no way he is worth $75,000 more than Juninho a year. If Sarvas was demanding this kind of money, it's easy to see why the Galaxy let him go. If, however, he was demanding something closer to his current base salary at Colorado, $360,000, then LA may have made a huge financial error.

Let's do some quick math. Marcelo Sarvas made $192,500 last year. If he was asking for $360,000, that's a difference of $167,500. Now, let's say the Galaxy put the money they used to sign Buddle towards Sarvas' salary instead, since we know they had that room under the cap. All of a sudden that $167,500 number falls to $61,250.

Now here is where it gets infuriating. After dropping Sarvas and failing to sign Kljestan, the Galaxy signed Mika Vayrnen for $34,996 more than what Sarvas was making in 2014. Vayrynen has been an awful signing. Vayrynen apologists will argue that he's been hindered by injuries, but his MLS pass, assist, and defensive usage rates are near identical to his numbers in previous leagues, so this is merely a weak argument from those who are unwilling to admit that this was a failure of Galaxy scouting.

If you subtract the $34,996 more we are paying Vayrynen than we were Sarvas in 2014, our total comes down to a $26,254. From here, plenty of options come into play including, allocation trades, re-signing guys like Gargan for slightly less, and talking Sarvas into taking $10,000 less than Juninho.

It appears the Galaxy could have held on to Sarvas had they not taken a gamble on trying to get Klljestan and given the Galaxy's early season struggles in the center of the park, it's a misstep that proved costly.

Defense

Name

Pos

Base Salary

Guaranteed Compensation

Omar Gonzalez

D

$    1,200,000.00

$                                   1,450,000.00

Todd Dunivant

D

$        185,000.00

$                                       205,750.00

AJ DeLaGarza

D

$        200,000.00

$                                       202,500.00

Robbie Rogers

D

$        175,000.00

$                                       191,666.67

Leonardo

D

$        150,000.00

$                                       155,000.00

Dan Gargan

D

$        125,000.00

$                                       125,000.00

Tommy Meyer

D

$          60,000.00

$                                         73,750.00

TOTAL

$                                   2,403,666.67

In terms of 2015 production, the Galaxy backline is overpaid. The Galaxy are 6th in the league when it comes to expected goals against per game, but when you look the top 10 defenses' xGA per 50k spent on defensive salary,  the Galaxy are 10th.

Defense per dollar

Team

xGA

Defensive Salary

xGA per 50k

COL

1.07

919,250

0.058199619

FCD

0.98

918,850

0.053327529

SJ

1.14

1,082,540

0.052653944

SEA

1.1

1,078,035

0.051018752

VAN

1.04

1,288,916

0.040343979

ORL

1

1,687,818

0.029624047

POR

1.12

1,996,200

0.028053301

SKC

0.95

1,735,150

0.027375155

HOU

0.98

1,899,416

0.025797403

LA

1.05

2,403,666

0.021841637

Part of this is having a dp salary defender, however the Galaxy are not the only team on this list with a dp salary defender. Although an argument can be made that, compared to other dp defenders, Omar is overpaid, it's hard to argue that he is not one of the best defenders in the league.

Another reason the Galaxy defense is so overpaid is Todd Dunivant.

Todd Dunivant has been a part of numerous championship teams and at the time of signing his contract 3 years ago, was still one of the best left-backs in the league.But he was also entering his 30's. Injuries are hard to predict and shouldn't necessarily be held against a player in terms of value. This can certainly be said for AJ DelaGarza this year. However, considering Dunivant's age at the time, the Galaxy took a risk in locking Dunivant in at such a high pay grade for such a long time, and currently have a 34 year old defender making 200k who hasn't meaningfully contributed to the team in 2 years, thanks to this misstep.

Keepers

Name

Pos

Base Salary

Compensation

Jaime Penedo

GK

$        175,000.00

$             178,125.00

Brian Perk

GK

$          60,000.00

$               60,000.00

Brian Rowe

GK

$          60,000.00

$               60,000.00

Andrew Wolverton

GK

$          50,000.04

$               50,000.04

Total



$             348,125.04

Jaime Penedo is probably one of the top five keepers in the league but  is only the 11th highest paid. Jaime Penedo is an absolute steal and the Galaxy might have to pony up to hold on to him in the future.

Attacking Value

I have long argued that with signings like Ishizaki and Vayrynen, the Galaxy front office is not nearly as sophisticated at finding value on the transfer market as clubs like RSL who have historically survived on it. The Galaxy can afford to overpay players within the cap space, mainly because so much of their production comes from money spent outside of it. The Galaxy attack runs on DP's and when it comes to signing DP's, the Galaxy are the best.

All that being said, the Galaxy have managed to get far more value within the cap this year than in 2014. While the Galaxy hardly discovered Sebsastian Lletget as he's one of the most scouted American players in history, managing to sign him for sub 200k was the bargain move of the season within the league.

Due to a string of early season injuries, the Galaxy have also managed to get a lot of value from a handful of 60k players like Jose Villarreal, Nacho Maganto and Bradford Jamieson IV.

If you adjust each players Goals+Assists per 90, and Expected Goals+ Expected Assists per 90, rates to their salary, you can get a sense of which players give the Galaxy the best value on the team. Here is that list.

Player

G+A p/90 p $50k

xG + xA p/90 p $50k

Sebastian Lletget

0.637836205

0.214312965

Jose Villarreal

0.544365814

0.303756124

Ignacio Maganto

0.27027027

0.240540541

Bradford Jamieson

0.17281106

0.164170507

Alan Gordon

0.124223603

0.105279503

Baggio Husidic

0.101809955

0.070859728

Gyasi Zardes

0.08818371

0.089506465

Juninho

0.036692759

0.02832681

Robbie Rogers

0.036456926

0.029165541

Steven Gerrard

0.015618008

0.005544393

Robbie Keane

0.015240328

0.009273154

Omar Gonzalez

0.006022215

0.003834144

Edson Buddle

0

0.139743207

Mika Vyrynen

0

0.025555019

Rafael Garcia

0

0.017751479

Leonardo

0

0.016265195

Dan Gargan

0

0.012953157

Kenney Walker

0

0.00678733

Oscar Sorto

0

0.005015674

A.J. DeLaGarza

0

0.003234003

Brian Rowe

0

0

Jaime Penedo

0

0

Todd Dunivant

0

0

Tommy Meyer

0

0

The following table is a complete list of the 2015 salaries

Last Name

First Name

Pos

Base Salary

Guaranteed Compensation

Gerrard

Steven

M

$    6,200,004.00

$                               6,332,504.00

Keane

Robbie

F

$    4,500,000.00

$                               4,500,000.00

Dos Santos

Giovani

M

$    4,000,008.00

$                               4,100,008.00

Gonzalez

Omar

D

$    1,200,000.00

$                               1,450,000.00

Juninho

M

$        350,000.00

$                                   350,000.00

Vayrynen

Mika

M

$        204,996.00

$                                   227,496.00

Zardes

Gyasi

F

$        150,000.00

$                                   223,000.00

Dunivant

Todd

D

$        185,000.00

$                                   205,750.00

DeLaGarza

AJ

D

$        200,000.00

$                                   202,500.00

Rogers

Robbie

D

$        175,000.00

$                                   191,666.67

Penedo

Jaime

GK

$        175,000.00

$                                   178,125.00

Gordon

Alan

F

$        175,000.00

$                                   175,000.00

Leonardo Ribeiro da Silva

Jose

D

$        150,000.00

$                                   155,000.00

Gargan

Dan

D

$        125,000.00

$                                   125,000.00

Husidic

Baggio

M

$        125,000.00

$                                   125,000.00

Buddle

Edson

F

$        100,000.00

$                                   106,250.00

Lletget

Sebastian

M

$          95,000.04

$                                   100,500.04

Meyer

Tommy

D

$          60,000.00

$                                     73,750.00

Sorto

Oscar

D

$          60,000.00

$                                     61,875.00

Villarreal

Jose

F

$          60,000.00

$                                     61,875.00

Jamieson

Bradford

F

$          60,000.00

$                                     60,000.00

Rugg

Charlie

F

$          60,000.00

$                                     60,000.00

Perk

Brian

GK

$          60,000.00

$                                     60,000.00

Rowe

Brian

GK

$          60,000.00

$                                     60,000.00

Mendiola

Raul

M

$          60,000.00

$                                     60,000.00

Garcia

Rafael

M

$          60,000.00

$                                     60,000.00

Maganto

Ignacio

M

$          60,000.00

$                                     60,000.00

Walker

Kenney

M

$          60,000.00

$                                     60,000.00

Wolverton

Andrew

GK

$          50,000.04

$                                     50,000.04