"Catcher Kenji Johjima has opted out of the final two years of his contract, according to a press release from the Mariners. He'll resume his career back in Japan. The Mariners are apparently freed from the $16MM they'd have owed Johjima over 2010-11.There's no way else to put this: this decision by Johjima is a gift for the Mariners. Sure Johjima was a solid player for the Mariners a few years back, but at this stage in his career, he was not productive enough at the dish to be considered a starting catcher, let alone an $8 million dollar a year player.
Johjima originally signed with the Mariners as a free agent; he agreed to a three-year, $16.5MM deal in November of 2005. His success in '06 and '07 made that entire contract worthwhile, but Johjima's April '08 three-year extension for $24MM was widely panned."
So now comes the big question, what will the Mariners do with their additional funds? They already have close to $50 million coming off the books (before arbitration), so the extra $8 million will give the Mariners even more flexibility.
But with that said, this is a team that has lots of holes entering the offseason:
1. shortstop (do they pick up Jack Wilson's option?)
2. third base (do they re-sign Adrian Beltre)
4. first base (will they re-sign Russell Branyan)
5. DH (will they upgrade from the Sweeney/Griffey Jr. combo)
6. Starting rotation (who will fill the rotation after Felix Hernandez?)
And here are some other questions to consider:
1. will the Mariners offer Felix Hernandez an extension? (YES, YES, YES!)
2. will the Mariners re-sign Erik Bedard?
3. will the Mariners become players for Jason Bay or Matt Holliday?
For now, all I know is this: Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is going to be one busy man this offseason.
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