Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer trade window officially opened on Monday at 8 AM Eastern. While the 2023 season officially ended with Saturday’s MLS Cup Final the new year is already starting. For the New York Red Bulls the first domino officially fell this afternoon. The team announced Midfielder Dru Yearwood is being traded to Nashville SC for the 2024 season.

Officially the terms of the deal seem meager. In exchange for Yearwood, New York gets $75,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) for the 2024 season. If certain contractual obligations are met Nashville will pay RBNY an additional $75k in GAM for 2025.

He joins fellow ex-Red Bulls Sean Davis and Alex Muyl in Nashville.

Yearwood’s four years in Harrison has seen his role differ and diminish over time.

While the midfielder made 99 appearances for RBNY (86 in MLS), every year that number dropped (excluding 2020 where he joined late in the year). His 2021 saw him play 30 MLS games and score one goal. The following year, he played 25 games and scored twice, with five yellow cards. The biggest of which came in September where he went into the stands after kicking a ball into a fan’s face.

Finally his 2023 saw him play in 22 MLS games and only starting 12. Most of the time his name being on the starting XI meant someone was missing for various reasons.

And that is where the real upside to this deal is. Since joining in 2020 Yearwood’s contract has been worth about $500,000 a year. This year its estimated the midfielder’s salary was closer to $600,000.

As noted in Nashville’s announcement Yearwood will be occupying an Under-22 Initiative roster spot on that team. Something he also did on RBNY after initially joining as an international. This gives New York another roster space for a youth player, whether that be a call-up from the reserves from abroad.

The Red Bulls’ strategy this season is to rebuild and move forward. That was clear in head of sport Jochen Schneider press conference at the end of the season. While a few thousand in GAM is a drop in the bucket, six figures in salary saved is a huge deal. Especially for a player that wasn’t making key contributions to the roster.

A player who scored three goals and three assists in three seasons was not worth six figures. Especially when it showed three separate head coaches could not use him to the fullest of his abilities in New York.

That frees up space for multiple types of signings. New York is already linked to RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg. Meanwhile the team has already resigned Dylan Nealis for the 2024 season. The Red Bulls are the eight favorites to win the 2024 MLS Cup at this point in the offseason, with odds of 25-1, according to a sportsbook recommended by Canadian betting info site

There are a ton of interesting MLS free agents to pursue this year as well, including forward Josef Martínez, Diego Rubio, and a lot of Philadelphia Union players.

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