The Seattle Sounders have been relatively quiet this offseason, choosing to make additions more on the fringes of their roster than within the core. That's been the product of two main factors: Relative happiness with the state of the roster following a double-winning campaign and reluctance to do anything too hasty until the new roster rules are settled under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Given that, it was a bit surprising to see them mentioned among the teams that were supposedly interested in Venezuelan forward Fernando Aristeguieta, who the Philadelphia Union announced they had signed to a Youth Designated Player contract on Friday. The Union currently have the 22-year-old on loan, but reportedly have an option to make the transfer permanent.
Also heard that the Sounders and Cosmos tried to swoop in yesterday and land Aristeguieta on a full transfer.— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) February 20, 2015
There's a few reasons why this seems a bit odd.
The most obvious one is that Aristeguieta would almost certainly take up a Designated Player spot on the roster. Nantes reportedly paid Caracas a transfer fee of about $1.25 million in 2013 and probably wouldn't be any cheaper than that if the Sounders were really trying to sign him on a full transfer. The Sounders simply don't have room on their roster a DP right now, which means they'd have to figure out a way to make Osvaldo Alonso not one. Even if they did that, it would be a bit weird for them to use the spot on the one position where they are already arguably better than anyone else in MLS.
Making such a bold signing would also run counter to something Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey said on Thursday: "It's more likely that we'll be waiting until there's a new CBA [to make any big signings]. You never want to pass on a deal because it's not convenient; if it's so good you have to take it and figure it out later. But strategically in a salary-capped world with limited resources, it doesn't make a lot of sense when you don't understand how much money you have."
Lagerwey was speaking in broad terms and in no way about this particular signing, but does Aristeguieta represent one of those "can't pass it up" kind of deals? That seems like a stretch. He's definitely got talent -- he scored 25 goals over his final 48 games in the Venezuelan Premier League as a teenager -- but he's also scored just two goals with the Nantes first team over the past two seasons, which is probably why he's even available on loan.
Maybe the Sounders see him as a long-term answer, but again that's a big gamble.
One potential scenario is that the Sounders were interested if the price was right -- if Nantes was willing to cut their losses on a relatively expensive signing. Another is that the Union just want it to seem like they beat someone to the punch.
Either way, the Sounders didn't get Aristeguieta and chances are they won't be signing anyone of his ilk until we have a CBA in place.