Playing the international market

Over at Amazin’ Avenue, Steve Sypa kicks off a three-part series on potential Japanese imports to help the Mets with a look at shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. Though, as Sypa concludes, Nakajima doesn’t seem the most logical fit for the Mets’ offseason needs, the team needs to bring in productive players on the cheap and should be exploring every possible angle from which it might do so.

To that end, I nearly made a post yesterday suggesting the Mets bring back old friend Lastings Milledge, who finished third in the Japanese Central League in OPS in 2012. L Millz will turn 28 in April. He bats right-handed and he plays the outfield, so he would appear a nice match for the Mets. Unfortunately, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows hold an option on his contract for 2013, and given his offensive success there, I’d guess they pick it up.

But here’s a dude: Former Mariners and Reds outfielder Wladimir Balentien finished second in the Japanese Central League in OPS this season and led the league in home runs for the second straight year.

Balentien, a native of Curacao, turned 28 in July. He plays the outfield and hits for power from the right side. The first 511 at-bats of his big-league career didn’t go so well, but he was younger then, plus playing in an awful offensive environment in Seattle. And he’s got a career .283/.351/.535 line in Triple-A and as far as I can tell his contract in Japan should expire after the season.

Presumably the Mets wouldn’t be the only team interested in giving Balentien another shot after his success overseas, but they might be the team most desperate for outfield help. So there’s that.

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