Lions fans have not been shy in voicing their opinions on the signing, with a majority of the comments on the web seeming to be against the former AS Roma and Real Madrid player.
While one Mane Land writer, Brent Petkus, isn't necessarily a fan of the signing, I'm here to explain the logic behind it and help try to make sense of what Orlando City might have been thinking when it began the chase for Baptista's signature.
- Orlando City, and I've said this a lot, has been in need of a veteran striker to play behind Cyle Larin for the longest time. All it takes is one little hammy tweak, or even an illness like we saw against New York City FC, to sideline Larin and leave fans wondering "where's our backup striker?" when Pedro Ribeiro or Hadji Barry line up at the forward spot. Not that there's anything wrong with those guys, but Ribeiro was never a true striker, and Barry is only three months removed from being a college forward. Long story short: Baptista is quality depth.
- We probably won't know until the MLS Players' Union releases the numbers this season, but Baptista's salary likely isn't breaking the bank for the club. If I had to guess, I say he'll land somewhere just under $200,000 -- in the $180-200K range, maybe. For an experienced bench player that can also serve as a mentor to younger players on the roster, that's a fair starting price.
- Baptista has been training with the club for the past month, so it's not like this is something that just popped up out of nowhere. The team has clearly seen enough on the training pitch to want to offer the 34-year-old a contract, and his long-standing friendship with Kaká is also a big plus when it comes to on-the-field play.
- More importantly, we're finding ourselves close to the end of March, and most of the top leagues around the world have already closed their transfer windows for the winter. At this point, the best thing Orlando City could do is find players unattached to clubs -- like Baptista -- or bring in players on loan, which could sometimes become tedious and expensive in itself. So the options weren't wide open. Some people have been mentioning Herculez Gomez, who is 33 years old and, honestly, might be an even bigger gamble.
- Even if he doesn't see a ton of time at striker, he can move around and play in the attacking midfielder role, where--outside of Antonio Nocerino--Orlando City lacks real depth. Otherwise, Adrian Heath is usually having to play guys out of position to make the adjustments needed when Kaká is out with an injury or on international leave, which is problem, again, in itself.
Really, whether or not you agree with the signing, at this point in time, it's best to just sit back, let the guys play, and we can come back in six months and judge whether or not this really was a good signing for Orlando City. Because right now, it's too early to tell. All we can do it look at the problem at hand and ask whether or not signing Baptista fixes that problem, and I think you can say it does for the moment.