As of today, there’s a new home run champion in Japan and that’s former Seattle Mariners top prospect Wladimir Balentien who hit a record breaking 56 round trippers in Japan’s Central League this season.
It may have been his last in Japan as his power surge has Major League Baseball teams interested in his services, particularly the San Francisco Giants who’ve said one of their main priorities this offseason will be to add power.
Few names come with more power and a lower price tag than that of Balentien, who according to Hank Shulman, has been discussed as a free agent target for the orange and black:
Some within the organization have discussed the possibility of acquiring former Mariners prospect Wladimir Balentien, who hit his 56th home run for the Yakult Swallows on Sunday to break Sadaharu Oh’s venerated Japanese single-season record.
The Giants have a great connection with Balentien. He is from Curacao and has known batting coach Hensley Meulens for years. Meulens managed the 29-year-old outfielder with the Netherlands in this year’s World Baseball Classic and they text every day, mostly small talk and encouragement.
“He wants to come back,” Meulens said. “That’s what he told me two or three weeks ago. His dream is to come back and play in the major leagues.”
Unfortunately for the Giants (or any other team interesting in bringing Balentien stateside, they’ll have to negotiate some type of buyout considering Balentien is under contract in Japan for two more seasons.