RSL trades Corey Baird to LAFC for allocation money and an international roster spot

GM Elliott Fall says team had no intention of trading forward, but LAFC’s offer proved irresistible

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake forward Corey Baird (10) reacts to a missed shot on goal as Real Salt Lake hosts the Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

Real Salt Lake is moving on from one of the players it has signed to a long-term contract in the past year.

RSL on Monday announced it traded forward Corey Baird to LAFC in exchange for $500,000 in general allocation money, an international roster spot and the potential for future allocation money. The GAM will be distributed across the 2021 and 2022 seasons, while the international spot is for 2021. The future allocation money is contingent Baird meeting certain performance thresholds.

RSL general manager Elliot Fall told The Salt Lake Tribune that the club was not looking to move Baird. But when LAFC came forth with a good enough offer, Fall pulled the trigger.

“Initially we were [frankly] fairly reluctant to engage if it weren’t for a valuation that we felt we needed to receive in order to be able to move forward,” Fall said. “This isn’t a move that we expected to make or that we set out to make.

“But it’s a move that we felt — once everything was on the table and the offer was there — that it was a deal that both put Corey in position to have a successful next stop in his career, but also put our club in a position of strength to really continue to built our roster in 2021 and beyond with significant resources.”

Baird signed with RSL on a homegrown contract in January 2018, and signed an extension last January that would have kept him in Salt Lake City through 2023. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2018, when he scored eight goals and five assists in 21 regular season starts.

After a breakout rookie season, Baird’s production dipped in each following year. In 2020, he started 17 games but scored only two goals on 29 shots (four on goal).

Throughout his RSL career, Baird scored 15 goals and added 13 assists. He played in 85 games and started 64, including playoffs.

Last March, MLSsoccer.com placed Baird atop Major League Soccer as the fastest player in the league, clocking him at an average of 15.21 mph on his runs.

“I was fortunate to work with Corey as a young man and watch him grow into a man,” coach Freddy Juarez said in a statement. “It was a pleasure to be part of that and his development as a player and I wish him the best in this new challenge.”