One of the possibly under-discussed storylines this preseason was Jackson Ragen apparently overtaking Xavier Arreaga on the Seattle Sounders depth chart. Ragen, a Sounders Academy product whose MLS rights were acquired in a trade last year, not only started the MLS regular-season opener against the Colorado Rapids, but also the FIFA Club World Cup match as well as the two preseason games.
Given that Arreaga made $700,000 last year and the Sounders are pretty tight against the salary cap, it would make sense that the Ecuador international would be on the trade block. It’s not just speculation, either. When the Sounders nearly signed Aaron Long in the offseason, analyst Taylor Twellman reported that the signing would have been accompanied by a trade that would have sent Arreaga to Inter Miami. Now comes a report from Matt Doyle on MLSsoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio that there are ongoing talks.
“From everything I’ve heard, they are shopping Xavier Arreaga,” Doyle said. “They do know that they need to get more bodies in the mix at centerback. It will be interesting to see where Arreaga ends up.”
Among the possible destinations that were mentioned are Austin FC, New York City FC, and the New York Red Bulls. Austin FC is a particularly interesting destination since they could probably use a ball-playing centerback in Arreaga’s mold after losing centerback Julio Cascante to injury in the season opener. His replacement, Kipp Keller, was negatively involved in all three of St. Louis City’s goals, including one where he literally passed the ball to an opposing player.
“That market has gotten more competitive over the last 48 hours,” David Gaas offered in a follow-up comment. “It feels like if you’re going to get a centerback you should have already done it because it’s going to get very competitive.”
From what I’ve been told, the Sounders might not be openly shopping Arreaga but are listening to offers and there’s been “definite interest” around the league. Still, the Sounders are well aware that they could end up playing 50 or more matches this year and Arreaga will likely get plenty of minutes here if they can’t find the right deal.
In recent weeks, there have been several trades involving centerbacks that set a rough market. Bill Tuiloma went from the Portland Timbers to Charlotte FC for as much as $900,000 in General Allocation Money; Jonathan Mensah was sent from the Columbus Crew to the San Jose Earthquakes for up to $500,000 in GAM; and Damion Lowe went from Inter Miami to the Philadelphia Union for $225,000 in GAM and “other assets.”
Of those, Tuiloma is probably the closest profile to Arreaga. Tuiloma is about one year younger and worth about $250,000 more than the 28-year-old Arreaga, according to Transfermarkt. Here’s how FBRef compares the four players’ defensive metrics:
Given all those factors, my suspicion is that the Sounders would probably be looking at a return of at least $700,000 GAM. Making it even easier for the Sounders to hold out for the right valuation is that Arreaga so far seems to be taking the situation in stride and isn’t pushing for a move.