Adding fuel to the fire surrounding the future of Tim Parker, the Whitecaps bought 24-year old centre back José Aja from Orlando City SC on Saturday, after agreeing to send $125,000 in 2019 Targeted Allocation Money to the Lions.
Should the Uruguayan remain with the 'Caps through 2019, they'll top up that TAM with a further $100,000. And if he's lasts three seasons, they'll also surrender their natural 2021 second round SuperDraft selection. Orlando will also retain a percentage of any future sell on fee.
That's a pretty price by Major League standards.
"José is a player who I first identified while scouting Cristian Techera in Uruguay three years ago," said Vancouver manager Carl Robinson. "He's a big lad who is very comfortable on the ball. He will add another dimension to the group and complement our backline well, and he understands the league now after playing in MLS for 18 months. We're excited to welcome him to our team and continue to help him grow to his full potential."
On its own, adding Aja would be a cause for celebration. But there's a twinge of sadness in his arrival, given how formidable the partnership of Tim Parker and Kendall Waston has been over the last few years. Should Parker head east in the days to come, the 'Caps will have torn asunder what is arguably the finest centre back pairing in the league.
But the writing is on the wall.
Aja is a fine addition, and at 6'4", he has a few inches on Parker. He's also got two years on the native of Hicksville, New York.
It's been a busy close season for the Whitecaps, especially at the back. Gone are David Ousted, Jordan Harvey, Sam Adekugbe, Sheanon Williams, with Parker expected to join them, and in are Doneil Henry, Sean Franklin, and now José Aja.
Add to then the changes that have come in the midfield, and Captain Kendall Waston would be forgiven if when he looks for that first pass against Montreal, he wonders where everyone's gone.