According to several Japanese news outlets, the Softbank Hawks from Fukuoka will make Curaçaoan slugger Wladimir Balentien an offer for a two-year deal worth about $9 million.
One of the demands/wishes Balentien has is to play with number four, the number he has worn during his NPB career with the Yakult Swallows. The Softbank Hawks have asked their infielder Keizo Kawashima to renounce his uniform number.
If the Hawks manage to acquire Balentien and also manage to keep Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial, the team will have a formidable and powerful lineup. The latter two depend on negotiations with the Cuban government.
Balentien will turn a free agent as per today so he can negotiate with every possible team but so far the Hawks have shown the most interest in the 35-year old slugger. With him and the aforementioned two Cubans, the Hawks may have a good shot of winning their fourth consecutive championship, their seventh since 2011 and their eleventh overall.
The big advantage of signing Balentien will be that the Hawks still can have four non-Japanese players on their NPB roster since Balentien now is not considered a foreigner anymore due to his nine seasons of service in the NPB.