For the longest time, it was unheard of for Japanese teams to sign its gaijin, or foreign-born players, to multiyear deals. That’s changed of late, though, and the Yakult Swallows have inked three of their imports to two- and three-year deals, MLB Trade Rumors reports.
According to Tim Dierkes, the Swallows have re-signed outfielder Wladmir Balentien to a three-year, $7.5 million contract, outfielder Lastings Milledge to a three-year, $4.4 million contract and reliever Tony Barnette to a two-year, $3.2 million contract.
Balentien hit .272/.386/.572 with a Central League-high 31 homers last year in his second season in Japan. Milledge hit .300/.379/.485 with 21 homers. The two were easily the Swallows’ best hitters; no one else on the squad managed an .800 OPS.
Barnette had 33 saves and a 1.82 ERA as the team’s closer.
While there probably weren’t any major league teams craving another shot at Milledge or Barnette, Balentien likely would have drawn some interest had he waited another year and chosen to return to the United States. The 28-year-old disappointed in his early major league stints, but he hardly embarrassed himself. After getting traded away from the Mariners and out of Safeco, he hit a respectable .264/.352/.427 in 110 at-bats for the Reds in 2009.
The Giants, you have have heard, picked up Andrew McCutchen yesterday. As things currently stand, McCutchen is first on the depth chart at center field. That’s probably a placeholder situation, though, because (a) McCutchen really shouldn’t be playing center field anymore; and (b) the Giants know he shouldn’t be playing center field anymore. I mean, if an evil genie appeared and told Bruce Bochy he’d be granted any wish he wanted, but the price of it would be that McCutchen HAS to be his center fielder, I’m sure everyone would make do, but it’s not an ideal situation.
To that end, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN is reporting that the Giants have free agent Jarrod Dyson in their sights. Jon Jay and Cameron Maybin are considered some backup options.
Dyson is obviously a superior defender, and he has some wheels too. The bat is no great shakes — he’s never been even a league average hitter in terms of OPS+ — but you can put up with the .251/.324/.350 with five homers and 30 RBI he posted in 2017 if you’re getting good leather in the spacious AT&T Park outfield. He’ll steal you some bases too, having swiped 28 in 111 games for the Mariners last season.
The big splash move would be to go get Lorenzo Cain, but that’ll cost the Giants, who are already near the luxury tax threshold, some more money. Dyson may be a better fit in light of that.