Sporting Kansas City waived four players Monday ahead of the MLS Waiver Draft, including the club’s highest-paid player.
Defensive midfielder Julio Cesar, who earned a base salary of $252,000 last season, was among the players whose options for next season were declined.
Sporting KC also waived Konrad Warzycha, Cyprian Hedrick and Neven Markovic.
Cesar, who turned 34 on Sunday, appeared in 58 league games over the last two seasons with Sporting KC, including 54 starts. He scored three goals with three assists, including one in the 2011 playoffs.
Cesar was best known for his veteran savvy, steady presence and clinical tackles.
“He’s done well for us, but the issue is when it comes to the financial aspect,” manager Peter Vermes said. “The difficulty always remains the same thing, especially where he’s at financially.”
The MLS permits 20 players on each team’s senior roster with a $2.81 million salary cap, which made Cesar too expensive on a roster that needs added depth for a jam-packed 2013 season.
Factor in an expected salary bump for Matt Besler — one of two players, along with Roger Espinoza, not under contract for next season — and something had to give.
Money also was a factor in cutting Markovic.
“He was a very good guy who worked hard and had some very good qualities, but it came down to weighing everything — his roster spot, salary and the last piece is whether we have guys on the roster who can also do the things he brings to the table,” Vermes said.
That leaves Sporting KC with only three international roster spots occupied — Korede Aiyegbusi, Peterson Joseph and Oriol Rosell — and only three centerbacks — Besler, Aurelien Collin and Lawrence Olum.
Warzycha, 23, was drafted as a midfielder, but Sporting KC had been working to convert the third-round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft to central defense.
He missed his rookie season after knee surgery and played only one minute of the MLS slate last season.
“Konrad really wants to play midfielder,” Vermes said. “He worked hard for us as a centerback, but that’s not what he wants to play. He wants to play midfield, and I just don’t see him fitting into our team that way.”
Hedrick, 23, was a second-round draft pick last January but missed most of his rookie season after suffering a broken fibula in May.