Wladimir Balentien Rumors
The Yakult Swallows of Japan's Central League have signed three prominent players to multi-year contracts, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. Outfielder Wladimir Balentien obtains a three-year, $7.5MM contract for the 2014-16 seasons. Outfielder Lastings Milledge obtains a three-year, $4.4MM contract on a deal that includes a mutual option for 2016. Lastly, closer Tony Barnette obtains a two-year, $3.2MM contract.
Balentien, 28, will earn $950K in 2013 because an option in his previous contract vested. The Octagon client hit 31 home runs and posted a .272/.386/.572 batting line in 422 plate appearances this past season. Balentien, a three-year veteran of the big leagues, last appeared at the MLB level in 2009.
Milledge, a former first round pick and top prospect on this side of the Pacific, produced at the plate in Japan this past season. The 27-year-old posted a .300/.379/.485 batting line and added 21 home runs in 546 plate appearances.
Barnette saved 33 games for the Yakult Swallows in 2012. The 29-year-old right-hander posted a 1.82 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings.
Collecting the day's minor league signings...
- Outfielder Wladimir Balentien is joining the Yakult Swallows in Japan, according to this report passed along on Twitter by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman. The 26-year-old hit .282/.337/.536 with 25 home runs in 452 Triple-A plate appearances for the Reds' affiliate.
- The Twins signed 32-year-old outfielder/first baseman Jeff Bailey, reports Seth Stohs. Bailey hit .289/.387/.462 with 12 home runs in 564 Triple-A plate appearances for the Diamondbacks' affiliate.
- The Twins also signed infielder Chase Lambin, tweets Baseball America's Matt Eddy. The 31-year-old hit .252/.327/.414 with 15 homers in 548 plate appearances for the National's Triple-A affiliate in 2011. He has never played in the the big league, but did spend 2009 in Japan.
- MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports that Micah Hoffpauir has signed a one-year deal with the Nippon Ham fighters. The 30-year-old hit .251/.312/.421 in 394 plate appearances with the Cubs over the last three seasons.
- The Mariners have signed right-hander Justin Miller according to Eddy (via Twitter). In 24.1 innings with the Dodgers last year, the 33-year-old pitched to a 4.44 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. The Mariners are his ninth organization.
- Seattle also signed shortstop Sean Kazmar, tweets Eddy. He hit .275/.326/.381 for San Diego's Triple-A affiliate this year, and saw some big league action with them back in 2008.
- The Rays signed righty reliever Cory Wade, says Eddy (via Twitter). The 27-year-old had a 2.27 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 71.1 innings for the Dodgers in 2008, but he missed most of 2009 and all of 2010 after having shoulder surgery.
- Eddy tweets that the Athletics have signed outfielder Jai Miller. They lost him on a waiver claim to Kansas City back in April. The 25-year-old hit .252/.326/.490 in Triple-A last year, then .236/.300/.345 in 60 plate appearances with the Royals.
- The White Sox signed third baseman Dallas McPherson, tweets Baseball America's Matt Eddy. The 30-year-old hit .267/.339/.541 with 22 home runs in 354 plate appearances for Oakland's Triple-A affiliate this year. He hasn't spent significant time in the bigs since '06.
- The Phillies signed lefty reliever Dan Meyer, reports Bill Evans of the Gloucester County Times (hat tip to Matt Gelb). The 29-year-old signed with his hometown team after drawing interest from the Giants, Astros, Pirates, Padres, and Twins. Meyer, a big part of the Tim Hudson trade six years ago, had a strong '09 but was designated for assignment by the Marlins twice this year. He posted a 3.38 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, and 0.9 HR/9 in 40 Triple-A innings in 2010.
Links from Spanish-language news sources, highlighted by a rumor-packed tweet from un hombre de Bristol (links in Spanish).
- Enrique Rojas at ESPN Deportes says the A's are working hard to sign yet another third baseman. Only this time, it's Adrian Beltre, who reportedly turned down a three-year, $24MM offer from the team last winter.
- In the same tweet, Rojas says the Dodgers are interested in Edgar Renteria and his willingness to play second base, notes that there is a "good market" for Miguel Tejada, and revives an old rumor with a question: "Vic-Mart with the Rays?"
- According to Jorge Ebro at El Nuevo Herald, 17-year old Cuban centerfielder Yasiel Balaguer has defected to Nicaragua with hopes of signing with a Major League team. Ebro cites reports saying Balaguer's big draws are his explosive speed and throwing arm, though he has shown some offensive power as well in the Cuban National Series.
- Former Mariner and Red Wladimir Balentien has told his usual Venezuelan Winter League team, the Leones de Caracas, that he can't play this winter because he has signed with a team in Japan, reports Cesar Augusto Marquez at Lider en Deportes. Marquez doesn't say which team Balentien has joined.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets the results of Aaron Miles and Wladimir Balentien being designated for assignment by the Reds. Both players cleared waivers. Miles was released, while Balentien was outrighted to Triple A.
Miles joins the free agent ranks; he'll likely be signed for $400K with the Reds paying the remaining $2.3MM on his contract. The 33-year-old infielder hit .185/.224/.242 in 170 plate appearances for the Cubs last year, battling shoulder and elbow injuries. He was acquired twice during the offseason - by the A's to help facilitate their acquisition of Jake Fox, and by the Reds as a way of dumping the inferior contract of Willy Taveras.
Balentien, a 25-year-old outfielder, hit .234/.305/.385 in 295 plate appearances for the Mariners and Reds last year. He's flashed big power at various minor league stops and was a well-regarded prospect as recently as 2008.
The Reds have designated Aaron Miles and Wladimir Balentien for assignment, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of CNati.com (Twitter link). We heard on the weekend that the Reds were likely to designate the pair for assignment to create roster space if GM Walt Jocketty didn't find a trade partner.
The Mariners designated Balentien for assignment last summer, before the Reds acquired the outfielder leading up to the trade deadline. The Reds would acquire Miles six months later for Adam Rosales and Willy Taveras in a bad contract swap.
Miles hit .185/.224/.242 in 170 plate appearances for the Cubs last year and followed that up with a .152/.222/.212 performance this spring. It's hard to imagine any team claiming him. Balentien hit a more robust .327/.353/.571 this spring; in 295 plate appearances last year, he hit .234/.305/.385.
A few Reds-related items to round up:
- The team has released Kip Wells, according to the club's official Twitter page. They had signed the veteran right-hander to a minor league deal earlier in the winter.
- Aroldis Chapman is among the players listed in the same tweet that will head to the Reds' Triple A affiliate in Louisville.
- Mike Leake, Cincinnati's first round pick in last year's draft, has earned a spot in the rotation as the team's fifth starter, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Sheldon points out that Leake will be the first drafted pitcher to skip the Minor Leagues entirely since Darren Dreifort, and ESPN.com's Rob Neyer adds that no starting pitcher has pulled off the feat since Jim Abbott in 1989.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that Wladimir Balentien and Aaron Miles remain on the roster for now, but will not be on the team. GM Walt Jocketty says that the club will try to trade them in the next few days, if possible. Fay adds in a tweet that the pair will be designated for assignment on Sunday.
MLB.com's Mark Sheldon cleaned out his inbox and answered a few questions from Reds fans today. Here are some of the more pertinent details...
- The team would like to move Willy Taveras if they could, but there are very few takers for a player who posted a .240/.275/.285 line in 2009 and is due to make $4MM next season. Given his limited abilities and how Shelton feels that Taveras wouldn't be happy on the bench, the Reds have to consider cutting their losses with Taveras and releasing him.
- Micah Owings will likely not be used as trade bait, given that he is expected to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation and is also valuable out of the bullpen or as a pinch-hitter.
- Sheldon thinks that between Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix, Gomes has "the better chance" of being tendered a contract.
- If neither man is brought back, Cincinnati will turn to a variety of in-house options for the left field job, including Wladimir Balentien, Chris Dickerson or prospects Juan Francisco, Chris Heisey and Todd Frazier.
- Sheldon believes Joey Votto "has earned the right" to remain as Cincinnati's everyday first baseman, and the Reds would only consider moving their young slugger to left field if prospect Yonder Alonso proved he was ready for the major leagues.
- No surprise here, but Shelton confirms that the Reds don't have the payroll to go after major free agents like Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.
Did anyone expect the deadline to be this active? What a week. Some more tidbits:
- The Rangers signed their third-round selection, LHP Robbie Erlin, reports T.R. Sullivan at MLB.com.
- Jayson Stark has an extensive breakdown of the Cliff Lee trade--the Cy Young pitcher they needed, not the one they necessarily wanted.
- The Yankees have interest in Tigers OF Josh Anderson, says Danny Knobler at CBS Sports, and now Jim Leyland agrees, says Steve Kornacki at mlive.com.
- John Fay at the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that in a very roundabout fashion, the Reds traded Paul O'Neill for Wladimir Balentien.
- Mark Bowman at MLB.com reports that the Braves have been quiet on the trade front, and aren't pressured to make a big splash after the Cliff Lee deal. They've inquired on a few relievers that apparently aren't available.
- Despite the Phils' acquisitions, the Marlins are still in it to win it, says Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com.
- Fangraphs gives their analysis of the Freddy Sanchez and Jason Hirsh deals.
- Todd Zolecki at MLB.com gets Phillie rival players' takes on the Lee deal.
Ed Price of AOL FanHouse reports that the Reds acquired Wladimir Balentien from the Mariners for righty Robert Manuel, who was MiLB.com's right-handed reliever of the year in Double A last year, as Jonathan Mayo points out. The Mariners designated Balentien for assignment over the weekend.
The Mariners are in the playoff hunt with a 46-42 record, though many expected them to be sellers this month. As Gregg Bell of the AP reports, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and trade candidate Jarrod Washburn say they want to keep the team together and attempt to win now.
- Miguel Batista - Baker says it makes sense to move Batista, who makes $3.3MM before the end of the year. He could offset salary coming to Seattle.
- Relievers Sean White and Mark Lowe would atract interest and the Mariners may feel they have enough depth to part with one of them, especially with prospect Phillippe Aumont on his way.
- Unless the Mariners fall from contention, Baker suggests it makes sense to hold Erik Bedard, whose value is limited because of his time on the DL.
- Dealing Jarrod Washburn is a "no-brainer" if the M's fall out of it.
- Brandon Morrow, Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement could all be moved as well.