Former top prospect Wladimir Balentien is headed to Japan

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Wladimir Balentien consistently crushed minor-league pitching at every level and hit .283/.351/.535 with 67 homers in 302 games at Triple-A, but he’s now headed to Japan at age 24 after struggling in 559 plate appearances for the Mariners and Reds.

Balentien has tons of power, smacking 15 homers and 31 doubles in 511 at-bats even while struggling overall in the majors, but he hit just .221 with 149 strikeouts and a ghastly .281 on-base percentage while flailing away at off-speed stuff.

Flaws and all I’m still convinced that he could be a solid platoon player, starting against left-handed pitching as a backup corner outfielder, but instead of trying to work his way back to the majors by crushing more Triple-A pitching he’ll take what is surely a higher salary for a chance to be a star in Japan.

Phillies sign Drew Storen and Bud Norris to minor league deals

Drew Storen
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.

Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.

Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.

The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.