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Examining Chivas USA's very recent trade history

Trends certainly pop up, but can we draw conclusions from them?

Avila: Currently, the only tangible fruit of six trades this year.
Avila: Currently, the only tangible fruit of six trades this year.

With the shock trade of Juan Agudelo to the New England Revolution, in exchange for Allocation money this week, folks in Chivatown have been wondering what the team management is thinking. Could it be part of a long play to accumulate some money for a splash in the summer? Perhaps. Could it be a way for the team to get some assets out of a national team player? Entirely possible. Could it be a sign that the team doesn't really have a plan, and just heard "money" was coming back in a proposed deal, and therefore jumped at it? Maybe. Who knows?

Chivas USA has made several trades within the league so far this calendar year. I thought it might be useful to see if there were trends to these moves:

January 16, 2013: Chivas USA trade Nick LaBrocca's rights to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for Eric Avila's rights (team confirmed the trade January 22).

January 25, 2013: Chivas USA trade Casey Townsend to D.C. United for a second round 2014 MLS SuperDraft pick.

February 13, 2013: Chivas USA trade Ben Zemanski to the Portland Timbers in exchange for Allocation money and Jonathan Bornstein's MLS rights.

February 14, 2013: Chivas USA trade James Riley to D.C. United for a second round 2015 Supplemental Draft pick.

February 19, 2013: Chivas USA trade Shalrie Joseph and 2014 and 2015 second round MLS SuperDraft picks to the Seattle Sounders, in exchange for the 15th spot in the Allocation Order.

May 7, 2013: Chivas USA trade Juan Agudelo to the New England Revolution for Allocation money.

So, that makes six trades, with six Chivas USA players heading out, plus two draft picks, in exchange for Eric Avila, Jonathan Bornstein's rights, a Supplemental Draft pick, the 15th spot in the Allocation Order, and a couple of helpings of Allocation money.

Damn, that looks pretty bad. Those six players traded away played a combined 352 league games for Chivas USA. However, none of them (we have to exclude Agudelo from this group, since he has yet to even play for his new team) is a regular starter for their new teams, and have played a combined 20 league games this season. Eric Avila has done nearly half that by himself, with nine appearances this year for Chivas.

Still, weren't there better assets available for Chivas to obtain? Is the player pool so bad that getting pennies on the dollar was preferred?

A counterargument could come from the situation with Joseph. Chivas traded for him with New England, in exchange for Blair Gavin (who no longer plays in MLS). While Chivas may have nominally "won" the trade because they got a player with more experience who played more for his new team, the situation was clear the day the trade was made, that the deal was essentially a salary swap for the Revolution. Sure, Gavin didn't really impress them, but in the grand scheme of things, that wasn't the point for the Revs.

Flash forward to this preseason, when Chivas were desperate to get rid of Joseph. I've argued he was a disaster on the field for Chivas, although you have to figure it was his salary that was the problem for team management. In fact, not only did Chivas swap one of the draft picks they obtained in the spate of trades, they sent two draft picks to Seattle to sweeten the deal, and got the least significant return of all. On top of that, Chivas is reportedly paying a significant amount of Joseph's hefty salary this season, an amount that is technically more than any current Chivas USA player is making this season.

So there is a good argument that simply getting players in return is not always the preferred route, especially if it means getting much the worse bargain on two trades for the same player. Still, in general, I think Joseph's situation is not the norm in MLS overall, and the Goats certainly should have gotten more for what they gave up in the pack of trades.

And since Allocation money is the most mysterious asset in MLS, one has to wonder if it will be used to bring a player in, or if it will simply be used to pay down current salaries on the team (or maybe to pay. Given the overall lack of investment in the team this season, with a slashed payroll and no marketing budget to speak of, the latter option has to at least be in consideration, doesn't it? Then it makes these moves appear to be mostly done in the service of preventing further investment. Fair or not? I honestly don't know, but I'm just trying to come up with explanations for these trades, frankly.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!