Richard Eckersley traded by Toronto FC to Red Bulls
Reds acquire 2017 4th-round draft pick in cost-cutting move
Toronto FC finally found a home for Richard Eckersley on Monday, sending the English fullback to the New York Red Bulls for a fourth-round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
The move, long expected, was money-related. The MLS Players Union listed Eckersley's salary last season at US$310,000, second-highest among the numbers made public for Toronto players.
His number for 2014 was even higher, thanks to a contract renegotiation last year to help ease the 2013 salary cap burden.
Toronto declined comment when asked if the club was absorbing any of that salary.
"As per team and league policy, we can't disclose terms of the deal," a Toronto spokesman said.
Which sounds like a yes.
Toronto was more interested in ridding itself of Eckersley's wages than getting something in return, which other clubs knew.
While a fourth-round draft choice is a modest prize — there are only four rounds in the SuperDraft — Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko can add it to the draft choices obtained for the rights to goalie Stefan Frei and midfielder Bobby Convey, two other players who did not figure in TFC's future.
Eckersley, 24, made 92 appearances for Toronto over three seasons after joining the club on loan from English side Burnley FC in April 2011. The loan became a permanent deal in January 2012.
Eckersley established himself as a starter at right fullback, filling in at centre back when needed. Signed to a rich contract by a previous regime, he found himself on the outs towards the end of last season because of his salary cap hit.
The red-haired Brit was a fan favourite for his marauding runs and combative style.
But manager Ryan Nelsen used Mark Bloom for the last six games of the season, electing to keep Eckersley on the sidelines with his future on the club uncertain. The team recently signed veteran English fullback Bradley Orr on loan from Blackburn Rovers.
"We've been really honest with Richard," Nelsen said prior to flying to Florida for training camp Sunday.
"He's given great service to the club. He's done really well and it's not his fault that a contract was given that was probably not appropriate."