The San Jose Earthquakes’ most prominent out-of-contract player didn’t stay that way for very long.
Defender Jason Hernandez, one of only two players who have served continuously with the Quakes since their re-establishment as an expansion franchise in 2008, reached agreement with San Jose on a new deal, the team announced Wednesday.
Midfielder Sam Cronin also inked a new contract Wednesday as the Quakes struck quickly, just a week after their postseason elimination, to start keeping their Supporters’ Shield-winning roster intact.
Terms of the deals were not announced.
“(Hernandez) is a great leader on and off the field and we hope to keep him here for the rest of his career,” Quakes general manager John Doyle said in a statement. “Sam was another integral piece to our Supporters’ Shield run. He had a great season for us and we wanted to make sure his future was in San Jose.”
The moves mean that San Jose currently have the option of bringing back at least 13 of the club’s 15 most-used players.
Forwards Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart signed new deals last offseason, as did goalkeeper Jon Busch. Golden Boot-winning striker Chris Wondolowski has had his contract rewritten in each of the last two winters.
The only question marks from that group are captain Ramiro Corrales, whose availability has been on a year-by-year basis of late because of injuries accumulated over a 17-year professional career, and midfielder Simon Dawkins, who rejoined English giant Tottenham Hotspur at the end of his second season-long loan.
Doyle hinted in July when the club terminated the contract of highly paid Colombian midfielder Tressor Moreno that much of the savings from that move would go towards giving raises to the players who most helped San Jose go 19-6-9 in 2012. For example, left back Justin Morrow, who emerged this year as a regular and was named to the MLS All-Star team, reached a new agreement last month.
In his exit interview with reporters last week, Hernandez sounded confident of a return, but acknowledged that players might have to leave money on the table if they want to remain with the Quakes under the league’s salary-cap restrictions.
“In my experience, it’s all about being happy,” Hernandez said. “Being here, coming to work every day, we’re happy and we’re proud to come here and do what we do. In my opinion, and in most guys’ opinion, I think the money takes a back seat to being successful and being happy and being part of something you love. That’s what we have here.”