Wladimir Balentien, who has played for the Yakult Swallows in the past six years is trying to get a deal with his club for another year and perhaps more. But the Swallows are having their doubts. Not only are they worried about the fact that Balentien is injury prone, they also are not happy with his defense despite his good bat. They are eyeing a minor leaguer from the United States to fill in Balentien’s spot and they need some money to sign a priced Japanese free agent.
So it may be clear that Balentien’s future with the Swallows is far from secured. But there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Last season’s cellar dwellar of the Pacific League, the Orix Buffaloes (57-83) are considering to sign Balentien if he and the Swallows cannot hammer out a deal.
The Orix Buffaloes had the lowest number of homeruns of all teams but one: 84. Since the Buffaloes are playing in the Pacific League, they do not necessarily need to play Balentien in the outfield as the league allows its teams to use the DH unlike the Central League where the Swallows play.
With his .269 average and 31 homeruns, Balentien could be a welcome reinforcement for the Buffaloes, the team that splits its home games between Kobe Sports Park Baseball Stadium, former home of the Orix Blue Wave and the Osaka Dome, former home of the Kintentsu Buffaloes. Both teams merged because they were in financial trouble, a move orchestrated by the Orix group, owner of the Blue Wave that bought the Buffaloes as well. Due to the merger, the Pacific League had five teams all of a sudden and that is when the Rakuten Golden Eagles were established.
Even though Balentien stated that he rather would stay with the Swallows, he also stated that he wished to stay in Japan. So even if the cannot sign a deal with the other team from Tokyo, his wish may be granted in Osaka.