Why Columbus Crew got good value trading Miguel Berry to DC United
The Columbus Crew have traded 24-year old Forward Miguel Berry to DC United for a guaranteed $225k in General Allocation Money (GAM) (plus another potential $100k in GAM based on performance based incentives), as announced by the club.
The Crew will also retain a future sell-on% in case DC United sells Berry elsewhere (although we don't know what that percentage is yet). This will help protect Columbus in case Berry has a major breakout in DC (which he is capable of doing).
The breakdown of the GAM in the deal is that the Crew will receive $125k in 2022 GAM, and then $100k in 2023 GAM. There is also the potential for the deal to rise up to 325K total based on incentives potentially reached by Berry at DC, although we don't know exactly what those incentives are right now.
This season, Berry has two goals across 16 appearances (13 starts) for the Crew. He has played 977 minutes on the year. He is completing 69.3% of his passes and has made 11 key passes.
Berry was one of the main starters for the Crew at the beginning of the season, but had begun to see his playing time slip away as he struggled to find the back of the net at the rate he had in 2021. The arrival (and stellar play) of Cucho Hernandez also added to Berry's playing time slipping and the ability for the Crew to move Berry. In fact, Berry has only tallied 24 minutes total across Columbus' last three matches.
Berry is 24 years old and is valued at $550k on Transfermarkt. Berry still has potential and has shown flashes of it throughout his short professional career. I still believe he can become a quality contributor and consistently regular starter in MLS, but I'm just not sure his timeline completely fit that of the Crew who are trying to maximize their success with their core (consisting of the likes of Cucho, Lucas Zelarayan, Darlington Nagbe, and Derek Etienne Jr. among others) in win-now mode. Berry might align more with the timeline of DC who seem like they might be trying to rebuild and regroup.
The recent acquisition of Cucho (and how well he has played early on), helped make it possible for Columbus to move on from Berry. Columbus also has Derek Etienne Jr. up top who is playing very well recently, so it was tough to imagine Berry being able to consistently break through into the lineup with those two ahead of him.
With Berry's impact for the rest of 2022 sort of mitigated, this trade will allow Columbus to improve their roster at other positions this season and next. This was arguably the Crew trading from a position of depth to try to improve an area in weakness if needed.
I believe the trade also shows that Columbus believes in the long-term prospects of Etienne and Cucho being around for a while up top, as the Crew traded away a potential future contributor in Berry. This might mean that they believe that those two will stick around for several years to form a very dangerous combo in the attack.
Berry will head to a DC squad that is undergoing a lot of change right now with new manager Wayne Rooney taking other, plus other major personnel changes happening (such as trading away Julian Gressel). Berry should get an opportunity to earn minutes early on in his tenure in the nation's capital, and it should be interesting to see if he can become a favorite and often used player in Rooney's lineups.
Tom Bogert reported that several other teams were interested in Berry alongside DC. So, it appears that Berry had value throughout the league with other teams also believing in Berry's ability to help them. With that in mind, it will make things interesting on if he can breakout further in DC.
Berry was selected by the Crew with the seventh overall pick of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of San Diego (where he had a prolific four-year career). Berry didn't play for the Crew in 2020, and spent a chunk of the season on loan with the San Diego Loyal of the USL Championship. In the USL in 2020, Berry tallied three goals across 479 minutes in seven appearances (all starts).
Berry then had a breakout season of sorts in 2021 when he became one of the Crew's top goal-scoring options. Berry scored eight goals (along with two assists) in 18 appearances (nine starts) in 2021. He played 840 minutes. He averaged a strong 0.86 goals per 90 (with 1.07 goal contributions per 90).
With Berry being a former Superdraft pick, the Crew were able to get good value on selling him. The $225k that the Crew got is worth more than if they had just traded the pick outright, so the Crew did a good job of developing Berry and increasing his value.