Yesterday, Orlando City traded Ecuadorian international midfielder Jhegson "Sebas" Mendez across the country to league-leading LAFC for $300K of General Allocation Money. At first glance, it seems like a pretty good trade for both parties.
LAFC gets more quality and valuable depth in defensive midfield, while Orlando gets a decent cash return for a player who'd become a luxury option on the bench. But should the Lions have handled this situation better?
Mendez was on the final year of his contract, and a decision on his future had to be made soon. Young Uruguayan star Cesar Araujo is entrenched in the starting XI at this point, so deciding to move on from Mendez is a solid decision from the front office.
Or is it?
Mendez was the only other true defensive midfielder on the roster, with only Andres Perea and Joey DeZart having any MLS experience in that position. If Orlando is going to stay alive in the playoff hunt and push for a home game in the postseason, it probably needs another central midfielder.
And then there's the price.
$300K of GAM is a decent amount, but in the hyper-inflated MLS ecosystem, where we've seen multiple trades over $1 M in GAM, it's not a huge number. A good comparison would be Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado who arrived in the offseason for $400K GAM.
Delgado has a slightly higher profile within MLS given his time with Toronto FC, but despite his more veteran status, I'd argue he's not that much more valuable than Mendez, especially considering Mendez's sell on value.
This is all a long winded way of saying I wish Orlando could've gotten a little bit more for a talented player just entering his prime. He's not worth anywhere near $1 million of GAM, but closer to $500K or a valuable player in return would've felt better for a beloved player over the last few seasons.