For the better part of the fall, most fans of the Portland Timbers have been very aware of the contract negotiation saga between the Portland Timbers and their highest profile player, Diego Valeri.
Now, there appears to finally be a light at the end of the tunnel. The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal is reporting that sides are close to a deal:
Sources: The Timbers and Diego Valeri are nearing a new deal to keep the club legend in Portland. Not clear if Fernandez’s exit changed calculus on DP/TAM. I’ve reported and Timbers publicly hinted a couple times since end of season that they didn’t plan to sign him as DP.— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) November 19, 2019
According to Stejskal’s sources, the team and Valeri appear to be close to a new deal that would keep the Timbers legend in Portland. As the report states, it is unclear if the proposed deal keeps Valeri as a DP or a TAM player.
Stejskal’s reporting has been solid on this saga: He was the first one who reported the contract disagreements, and also that Portland had a new multi-year TAM deal for Valeri on the table. I for one am inclined to believe that this endeavor is indeed reaching its end and that El Maestro is indeed close to staying in the Rose City.
For fans frustrated by a disappointing season and burdened by the thought of a bona fide Timbers legend leaving the team, this news can’t come at a better time. Between the lackluster end to Portland’s playoff run, watching that team win MLS Cup, recently learning of the termination of Brian Fernandez’s contract, and just today seeing Zarek Valentin leave Portland via the expansion draft, positive news around Valeri’s status is a welcome sight.
It may be even more welcome if the Timbers are able to keep him on a new TAM deal, keeping one of their valuable DP slots open. Valeri is arguably one of the greatest Timbers players ever and, to many fans, he may be worth DP money purely for his emotional impact. But the team maintains maximum flexibility by keeping a DP slot open, and one could argue that based on his age and career trajectory, Valeri may not be worth taking up a slot. It is unclear if the sudden open DP slot with Fernandez’s departure has factored into the negotiations, but regardless it could be argued that the team would want to keep that slot open for a potential replacement for Fernandez. So a TAM deal structured similarly to the one Valeri was on in 2019, which reportedly is what is being offered, might be the best for the club’s longer-term future.
It remains to be seen if or how soon the contract will be finalized and announced by the club, but we can expect that this will all be finished up soon.