Ike Opara 4 - 2018 season
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Where does Ike Opara's trade rank in recent allocation money deals?

With the influx of allocation money, the trade market within Major League Soccer has been flying.

On Monday night, Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United cannonballed another huge allocation-money splash across the league when the Loons acquired defender Ike Opara for $900,000 in total allocation money plus $100,000 in incentives. Opara, 2017 MLS Defender of the Year, is now the most expensive defender in MLS history by way of allocation money.

What was the context for the move? What trades made in recent years can we coalesce into a reasonably objective price tag on a premier MLS center back? 

Notable defenders traded since 2017

Player Total Allocation (Incentives) Season Age*
Ike Opara $900k + ($100k) 2019 29
Kendall Waston $750k + ($75k) 2019 31
Tim Parker $500k + Felipe 2018 25
Walker Zimmerman $500k + No. 1 Allocation Spot 2018 24
Greg Garza $450k 2019 27
Nick Hagglund $300k + No. 1 Allocation Spot 2019 26
Keegan Rosenberry $300k + ($100k) 2019 25

*Age at beginning of season traded

FC Cincinnati are responsible for three entries on the list, as the league's latest expansion side focused a large chunk of their allocation money on building back-to-front, acquiring left back Greg Garza and center backs Kendall Waston and Nick Hagglund. They also sent a not-insignificant bundle of allocation money to the Portland Timbers for right back Alvas Powell.

Prior to this offseason, the most expensive defenders were in their mid-20s, when Tim Parker was shipped to the New York Red Bulls not long after Walker Zimmerman headed for LAFC. 

Where does Opara rank in the league's biggest trades in recent seasons, irrespective of position?

Big money trades since 2017

Player Total Allocation (Incentives) Season Age*
David Accam $1.2m 2018 27
Darlington Nagbe $1.05m + (600k) 2018 27
Justin Meram $1.05m 2018 29
Dom Dwyer $900k + ($700k) 2017 27
Ike Opara $900k + ($100k) 2019 29
Fanendo Adi $850k + ($100k) 2018 28
Christian Ramirez $800k + ($200k) 2018 27

*Age at beginning of season traded

David Accam leads the list after the Philadelphia Union acquired him ahead of the 2018 sesaon, about a month after Atlanta United traded for Darlington Nagbe. 

The Timbers were sellers in two of the trades, as Nagbe and Fanendo Adi both came from the Rose City. Opara is the only defender, as well as the oldest, though the money swapped in Waston's trade isn't far behind.