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Wladimir Balentien, Lastings Milledge get multiyear deals in Japan

Dec 17, 2012, 8:04 PM EDT

Lastings Milledge Getty Getty Images

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.

  1. braddavery - Dec 17, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    Good for them. Baseball is a game of second… and sometimes third and fourth chances and maybe one or more of them will end up on a ML roster again someday.

    • kkolchak - Dec 17, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      They’re getting $15 million between ‘em, so they’re doing all right.

  2. historiophiliac - Dec 17, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    Matthew, did you make up those names? They sound like 19th century villains!

    • kkolchak - Dec 17, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      Actually, Wladimir looks like a typographical error. And Milledge was a 21st century villan in New York.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 17, 2012 at 9:24 PM

        What was the charge? Fraudulence by Baseball Contract or Alienation of Contention?

  3. humanexcrement - Dec 17, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    People think discrimination is so prevalent here, but anyone who’s ever been to Japan knows there are two kinds of people in Japanese culture: Japanese people and gaijin. It’s perfectly acceptable over there to have one set of rules for natives and another for foreigners–baseball teams are only allowed to have a certain number of foreign-born players on their rosters, and it’s perfectly legal for business establishments to have a Japanese-only policy with their clientele. East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet, I guess…

  4. rayfeathers - Dec 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    lastings? that has got to be the most fucked first name ever. i practically laugh out loud when i hear it.

    • tuberippin - Dec 17, 2012 at 11:39 PM

      I don’t know man, I think you need to wade through the past few NFL drafts and find some outstanding first names. Barkevious (coming up in the 2013 draft), LaMichael, LaDarius, D’Brickashaw, etc.

    • slartibartfast4242 - Dec 17, 2012 at 11:46 PM

      I’m pretty sure back in the day there was an NFL player named Fair Hooker. There were a few more funny ones I just can’t recall off the top of my head now, but Lastings doesn’t really cut it.

      • mazblast - Dec 19, 2012 at 1:10 AM

        WR for the Browns in the 1970s, 5th round pick out of Arizona State in 1969. Endless riffs on the term “fair catch” by half-wits being half-witty.

    • frank433 - Dec 17, 2012 at 11:54 PM

      I know a few middle school teachers. These are some names I’ve heard:

      Placenta
      Shithead (pronounced sha-thee-a)
      Orangejello

      I’ve heard of brothers that shared a name (not their fathers) and had sr and jr.

      Lastings isn’t THAT bad.

      • thereisaparty - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:15 AM

        Racist urban legends sure are fun

      • thereisaparty - Dec 18, 2012 at 2:59 AM

        http://www.snopes.com/racial/language/names.asp

      • mazblast - Dec 19, 2012 at 1:25 AM

        Absolutely true story from the mid-1960s–

        My mother had just gone back to work and was a first-year teacher at an inner city elementary school in Pittsburgh. She asked one of the little girls about her first name. As it turns out, in PA (at least back then), if parents don’t specify a name for a child, the birth certificate is issued saying “Male” or “Female” as the first name. The mother saw “Female” and decided she liked it. Pronounced it “Feh-MOL-ee”.

    • zzalapski - Dec 18, 2012 at 1:35 AM

  5. slartibartfast4242 - Dec 17, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    I never knew that Yakult swallows.

  6. brewcrewfan54 - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    Lastings Milledge turned into a good player over there? If Corey Patterson isn’t there yet maybe he should be.

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