Kenji Opts Out

Dave · October 19, 2009 at 9:46 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Still working to confirm, but I’ve been told that Kenji Johjima has opted out of the final two years of his contract. Obviously, woo.

Edit: LaRue confirms with a quote.

“After lots of very deep thought and deliberation, I have decided to return home to resume my career in Japan,” Johjima. “I have had a wonderful experience competing at the Major League level. The last four years have been extraordinary, with great teammates and great coaches.

“I will always be indebted to the Mariners organization for giving me the opportunity to follow my dream. This was a very difficult decision, both professionally and personally. I feel now is the time to go home, while I still can perform at a very high level. Playing close to family and friends was a major factor. I will miss the Seattle fans and their gracious support. Thank you all.”

Update to the update: Jack Z denies there was a buyout. We’ll probably never know for sure.

Comments

92 Responses to “Kenji Opts Out”

  1. Dave Clapper on October 19th, 2009 9:53 am

    Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

  2. BrianV on October 19th, 2009 9:53 am

    Thanks to Kenji for some good years.

    This is delightful, though.

  3. Scottdids on October 19th, 2009 9:57 am

    Wow. Thank you Kenji. This is obviously huge for the team, but does open up an issue at catcher with Moore probably not quite ready and the health of Rob Johnson up in the air.

    Now, this frees up money for next season, but let’s face it, the free agent market is weak and there are still a ton of holes to fill. Dave, do you think its possible they take the savings from Johjima, cut Silva (taking a “big bath” to borrow a business term), and clear the books for 2011 as they’ll have no albatross contracts left on the books?

  4. gwangung on October 19th, 2009 9:59 am

    Heh…is Derek regretting releasing 2nd Guesser THIS day?

  5. Wells on October 19th, 2009 10:02 am

    Shoot that’s just about as nice and tidy as the Ms might like it.

  6. Liam on October 19th, 2009 10:03 am

    I guess this rules out trading him to Kansas City.

    It says there was a buyout, any idea as to how much it was?

  7. Adam B. on October 19th, 2009 10:03 am

    First off; Hot damn!

    With that out of the way I’d like to thank Kenji for everything he’s done for this organization. The man has been nothing but a class act since signing here, and his bad contract and some unwarranted (possibly racist) criticism aside, he’s been nothing but a hard-working player and a good teammate.

    I wish him and his family all the best, and hope his return to Japanese baseball is nothing short of a complete success.

  8. ManifestDestiny on October 19th, 2009 10:05 am

    Think there was any money given under the table to grease the skids on this? If so, would we even hear about it?

  9. Adam B. on October 19th, 2009 10:06 am

    Now, this frees up money for next season, but let’s face it, the free agent market is weak and there are still a ton of holes to fill.

    As has been reiterated time and time again here, free agency is just one way to spend money.

    An extra ~$8M for Zduriencik to play around with is nothing short of amazingly good news.

  10. SCL on October 19th, 2009 10:07 am

    According to the article, the team and player agreed a buyout.

  11. Mousse on October 19th, 2009 10:08 am

    Yeah, the LaRue article mentions a “buyout” so there was likely some money going to Kenji.

  12. Liam on October 19th, 2009 10:11 am

    I wonder if the title is intentional? Geoff Baker has been saying for a while that Kenji had an opt-out clause, but only for very specific reasons like one of his family members being ill.

    Pro Ball NW had been talking about this a couple days ago.

    Kenji Johjima (Seattle Mariners) — reports in the Japanese media say that he has an escape clause in his contract allowing him to return to Japan. Cot’s knows nothing about this. Hanshin is said to be prepared to offer 500m yen annually (about $5m), so for this to work Joh would have to take a pay cut, and the Mariners would have to not convince him to stay.

  13. joser on October 19th, 2009 10:13 am

    Woo? That’s WOO! That’s WOO with a bunch of zeros for ohs and a capital T! That is, since we’re allowed to swear here, out-fucking-tastic and fan-fucking-standing!

    I don’t know by what dark arts he operates, but Zduriencik keeps turning Bavasi’s straw into gold. There is no offseason Seattle cloud (or October day) so gloomy that Jack can’t find a little silver within. Damn, Jack: we’re not worthy. (But now comes the truest, greatest test: I don’t think there exists voodoo powerful enough to move Silva. Or his contract.)

    And allow me to take this moment to thank Kenji for his contributions with the team (we’ll focus on the good times, ok? — I did always like seeing his square head in the dugout). And to thank him especially for taking such a classy and courageous decision, which had to have been incredibly hard (and beyond humbling) on so many levels. While it may be a sad fact that he will be making his greatest contribution to the team by leaving it, he did contribute (especially in the first two years, when he averaged 3 WAR) and he’s doing all of us an enormous favor now. Even if it was only as a peripheral character who supplied us with a nickname for Washburn, he deserves to be remembered fondly.

  14. Adam B. on October 19th, 2009 10:21 am

    I’m wondering if the Mariners simply offered to give him the difference between his contract here and what he’d earn from a team in Japan?

  15. joser on October 19th, 2009 10:25 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the M’s are making up the difference, so Kenji continues to get his full Mariners salary in Japan with his Japanese team paying just part of it.

    Even so, that’s some money off the books and, more importantly, a roster spot opened up.

    I guess this rules out trading him to Kansas City.

    Oh, don’t count Dayton Moore out. The man has nose for, uh, something, and he’ll get it under this tent if he can. Sure, the Royals already have one ex-Mariners catcher in the form of Miguel Olivo, but why stop there when you can collect the entire set? Because the Royals are involved in a process and that apparently involves paying ex-Mariners as much as possible. (Schadenfreude may doom me to hell in the future but it sure makes the present more pleasant.)

  16. Mike Snow on October 19th, 2009 10:26 am

    I wonder if the title is intentional? Geoff Baker has been saying for a while that Kenji had an opt-out clause, but only for very specific reasons like one of his family members being ill.

    The team announced this as Kenji exercising the clause, which is how it would have to be contractually since the choice is up to him. There might have been limitations on the clause, but if the team doesn’t mind him exercising it (as the “buyout” indicates), they’re not going to be sticklers about the reason.

  17. Hdizz on October 19th, 2009 10:28 am

    Wow, sorry his time here had to end this way. Glad he was classy on the way out and I hope he doesn’t have any hard feelings about Seattle.

  18. Scottdids on October 19th, 2009 10:29 am

    As has been reiterated time and time again here, free agency is just one way to spend money.

    An extra ~$8M for Zduriencik to play around with is nothing short of amazingly good news.

    I never said it was the only way. But a lean free agent market means that potential trade partners have an advantage over us as there isn’t as much supply out there, and they can demand more for their asset. And yes, this can work both ways, but depending on what we want, it can be a disadvantage.

    My point was simply, we thought we had $20 million of bad contracts for 2010 and 2011. If Jack doesn’t like whats out there for either free agents OR trades, why not cut Silva and pay out his $24 million this season and be free and clear of all those contracts in 2011?

  19. djtizzo on October 19th, 2009 10:36 am

    Do we now need a catcher though in the FA market? The list is pretty weak! Aside from V-Mart anyway who will be optioned by the Sox…

    I like Johnson, but his bat is not good. More is high on expectations, but so was Clement.

    Sombody tell me we’re gonna be ok!

  20. joser on October 19th, 2009 10:37 am

    why not cut Silva and pay out his $24 million this season and be free and clear of all those contracts in 2011?

    Because that money is worth less in the future than it is now, and because if you’re going to give up on Silva while paying his salary anyway, you might as well find some team that is willing to trade you something (like tubs of Double-Bubble) for him. (Really, as bad as Silva is some team will give him a shot if he comes pre-paid.) But having more money available means it’s a little easier to do that, if that’s what you want to do.

  21. Liam on October 19th, 2009 10:37 am

    Sombody tell me we’re gonna be ok!

    If you listen closely, you can hear Dave wooing.

  22. Grizz on October 19th, 2009 10:38 am

    With the Johjima money added to the Sasaki money, the M’s can now afford to sign Holliday or trade for Halladay.

  23. Dave Clapper on October 19th, 2009 10:44 am

    From Twitter:

    @shannondrayer No buyout in Johjima contract-Mariners free and clear.

    Wow.

  24. wabbles on October 19th, 2009 10:48 am

    And the peasants danced! And the hampsters danced! Everyone danced, there was much rejoicing!

    But seriously folks, does this mean he gives up the $16 million over two years or whatever?
    If so, is that money available to spend or does it disappear into some kind of this-is-2009-money-and-those-books-are-closed black hole as the M’s have done in the past?
    Also does this mean the 25-man and 40-man roster spots get cleared immediately (Or pretty close)?

  25. Liam on October 19th, 2009 10:48 am

    Wow indeed. I wonder if the ownership had anything to do with this?

  26. Willmore2000 on October 19th, 2009 10:48 am

    Did anyone else suddenly do the Six Flags dance at their office when they read the news?

  27. Sports on a Schtick on October 19th, 2009 10:48 am

    Fan-fugu-tastic news this morning.

  28. WTF_Ms on October 19th, 2009 10:49 am

    Both a good day and a sad day. I got a bat signed by Joh at Fan Fest before his first year. We all had high hopes, that just never panned out.

    Good luck Joh!

    Now…..what to do at catcher????

  29. wabbles on October 19th, 2009 10:52 am

    I must admit that just like Yuni at shortstop did after Guillen was shipped out, Kenji brought us out of the wilderness at the catcher position. When he started, he was fun to watch and the comment that he wasn’t just fast for a catcher, he was fast. But time moves on. I wish him well.

  30. idahowriter on October 19th, 2009 11:01 am

    Domo arigato, Kenji-san.

  31. Willmore2000 on October 19th, 2009 11:01 am

    Beltre + Jack Wilson, anyone?

  32. joser on October 19th, 2009 11:07 am

    Sombody tell me we’re gonna be ok!

    The offseason is just getting started. People kept freaking out last off-season as well, because they kept reacting to each move as it happened rather than waiting to see the full picture after all of the deals were done. In other words: in Jack we trust. It’s gonna be ok.

  33. dchappelle on October 19th, 2009 11:23 am

    Definitely the gracious thing to do. Can’t say I’m 100% sure Johnson (Mr. PB himself) and Moore will equal his (possible) production, but at least they’ll do it for league minimum.

    Hopefully we trade him for Kikuchi. Also hopefully this doesn’t hurt our standing as a destination for Japanese players.

  34. Liam on October 19th, 2009 11:29 am

    How much of Dave’s off-season plan has to be rewritten as a result of this move? An extra $8 million dollars available can change a lot.

  35. TomG on October 19th, 2009 11:33 am

    And allow me to take this moment to thank Kenji for his contributions with the team (we’ll focus on the good times, ok? — I did always like seeing his square head in the dugout). And to thank him especially for taking such a classy and courageous decision, which had to have been incredibly hard (and beyond humbling) on so many levels. While it may be a sad fact that he will be making his greatest contribution to the team by leaving it, he did contribute (especially in the first two years, when he averaged 3 WAR) and he’s doing all of us an enormous favor now. Even if it was only as a peripheral character who supplied us with a nickname for Washburn, he deserves to be remembered fondly.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  36. pgreyy on October 19th, 2009 11:36 am

    Oh, I like it when a plan comes together.

    You’ve got to see this as a win-win situation for everyone involved.

    The M’s are no longer hamstrung by being burdened with an underperforming catcher with an impossible to deal with contract…and Kenji is no longer going to face the brunt of needless accusations and being the guy on the team who is only on the team because the team can’t afford to dump him…

    I’ve always been a big fan of Kenji, and I was hoping last year would have been a clear bounceback year for him after a rough 2008…but it wasn’t to be. But, like most people here, I never lost my admiration for his hard work…and I can already imagine a game, years in the future, where a retired Kenji comes back to Safeco and gets a warm welcome from the fans.

    The only person that I think is truly sad about this is the big-lunged fan in the 300 level…who used to have “every at bat” cheers for both Edgar and Dan Wilson, but changed allegiances upon their retirement to Beltre and Kenji…

    Sad, not to be able to yell “Let’s…Go…Johhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” for every Kenji at bat…could be heartbreaking if Beltre follows.

  37. TomG on October 19th, 2009 11:36 am

    Sombody tell me we’re gonna be ok!

    Like dchappelle said, this really doesn’t change things from an offensive standpoint other than getting similar production from the position for much cheaper. And it now opens a chance for Moore to prove if he’s capable at the ML level.

  38. awestby51 on October 19th, 2009 11:36 am

    Did somebody say Beltre?

  39. JerBear on October 19th, 2009 11:44 am

    Beltre + Jack Wilson, anyone?

    That’s exactly what I was thinking. I don’t know if it would be the best use of resources, given how cheaply Zduriencik is going to have to find wins, but anything that would bring Beltre back is fine with me. I’d love to just take the 8 million from Joh and spend it on AB.

  40. Dave on October 19th, 2009 11:45 am

    How much of Dave’s off-season plan has to be rewritten as a result of this move? An extra $8 million dollars available can change a lot.

    Maybe there was a reason I didn’t publish the off-season plan yet?

  41. xxtinynickxx on October 19th, 2009 11:54 am

    This is great news for the M’s. I wish Kenji all the luck in the world! I hope he finds his swing again in Japan. Now lets get the M’s really going!

  42. msb on October 19th, 2009 12:01 pm

    Drayer has a post up, with rumors that Hanshin has been pursuing him

  43. snapper on October 19th, 2009 12:28 pm

    Anybody else think this leads to Hideki Matsui as the M’s DH next year?

  44. Adam B. on October 19th, 2009 12:30 pm

    Anybody else think this leads to Hideki Matsui as the M’s DH next year?

    I don’t see how these things are related?

  45. juneau_fan on October 19th, 2009 12:34 pm

    Anybody else think this leads to Hideki Matsui as the M’s DH next year?

    Ugh. After watching him run with Griffey-esque speed to first on a groundball in Saturday’s game, I hope not Another set of bad knees to get constant updates on? I’d pass.

  46. Adam B. on October 19th, 2009 12:34 pm

    Maybe there was a reason I didn’t publish the off-season plan yet?

    Any more extenuating roster moves we should wait for before you put it out Dave? ;)

  47. Lasky on October 19th, 2009 12:59 pm

    I was always a fan of Kenji because I always, perhaps irrationally, expected something out of him just as I never, ever, ever expected anything out of Rob Johnson. Johjima was a servicable catcher, both defensively and offensively, throughout his Mariner career. Sure the contract was a bit of a boondoggle, but nothing like the Silva contract. We always stood a better chance of winning with Kenji behind the plate.

  48. Paul B on October 19th, 2009 12:59 pm

    Barring a catcher coming to the M’s as part of a deal, I’d expect some replacement level veteran to get an invite to spring training.

    A Burke or Quiroz type. Or maybe two.

    Then there would be a fallback if either Johnson or Moore wasn’t ready to go.

    Z seems pretty good at dumpster diving, so I’m sure we’ll be OK.

  49. joser on October 19th, 2009 1:04 pm

    Sad but true: Kenji’s first two seasons with M’s (’06 and ’07) rank as two of the three best seasons by any Mariner catcher, ever. (Dan Wilson’s 1996 is the other.) Offensively, at least, and we don’t have any good numbers for catcher defense so that’ll have to do.

    Kenji’s bat was still good for 1 WAR in limited time last year, but he and Rob Johnson more or less cancelled each other out in ’08 (and all of those PB by Johnson probably meant he was worth less than his .4 WAR this year too).

    Maybe there was a reason I didn’t publish the off-season plan yet?

    That was exactly what I was thinking. Of course, now the longer the delay before you post it, the more we’re going to expect another bombshell from the FO.

    Anybody else think this leads to Hideki Matsui as the M’s DH next year?

    Why do so many people keep looking for reasons to link Matsui and the M’s? By several accounts, Ichiro and Matsui don’t really want to be on the same team (unless it’s the national team in the WBC). Matsui is an aging fielder with significant injury issues — didn’t we already have enough of that this year with Griffey and Sweeney? If you want to link Matsui to a team that has a history of slugging outfielders with bad knees, might I suggest the Giants?

    For that matter, why should the M’s be in the market for DH who can only DH? I know Edgar kind of spoiled us, but lots of teams — good teams — don’t have a full-time DH, and rotate guys through that spot because they have excess fielders with bats good enough you want to keep them in the lineup. Doesn’t that sound better?

  50. The Ancient Mariner on October 19th, 2009 1:11 pm

    This is clearly a good thing for the M’s going forward, given how badly catchers age and the amount of money owed to Kenji over the next two seasons; it still makes me sad, though. It seems to me that if the FO and field management (anyone aside from Riggleman, anyway) had had the guts to stand up to the whiners in the dugout in ’08 (I don’t remember if we were hearing it in ’07 as well) and tell them to grow up and soldier, that things might have turned out a fair bit better for Kenji and the team both. As it is, he probably won’t be remembered as well as he deserves — the carping will overshadow his accomplishments. It’s too bad his time here had to end with us cheering his departure (though it wouldn’t be that way had he not been signed to that ill-timed and overlarge extension, and he can’t be blamed for accepting that).

  51. crelsner on October 19th, 2009 1:12 pm

    here’s the junkheap of free agents and some potential non-tenders via BBRef:

    Eliezer Alfonzo (31)
    Brad Ausmus (41)
    Paul Bako (38)
    Rod Barajas (34) – Type B
    Josh Bard (32)
    Michael Barrett (33) – club option
    Henry Blanco (38)
    Ramon Castro (34)
    Sal Fasano (38)
    Toby Hall (34)
    Michel Hernandez (31)
    Ramon Hernandez (34) – $8.5MM club option with a $1MM buyout – Type B
    Jason Kendall (36) – Type B
    Jason LaRue (36)
    Victor Martinez (31) – $7.7MM club option with a $250K buyout – Type A
    Bengie Molina (35) – Type A
    Jose Molina (35)
    Miguel Olivo (31) – $3.25MM mutual option – Type B
    Mike Redmond (39)
    Ivan Rodriguez (38) – Type B
    Brian Schneider (33)
    Yorvit Torrealba (31) – $4MM mutual option with a $500K buyout – Type B
    Javier Valentin (34)
    Jason Varitek (38) – $5MM club/$3MM player option plus incentives – Type B
    Vance Wilson (37)
    Gregg Zaun (39) – $2MM club option with a $500K buyout; Zaun can void option

    Potential Non-Tenders:

    John Buck
    Kelly Shoppach
    Dioner Navarro
    Corky Miller
    Matt Treanor

    plenty of veterans who can catch/throw and call a game. I think we’ll be okay.

  52. hark on October 19th, 2009 1:17 pm

    [this is not a board]

  53. kinbote on October 19th, 2009 1:19 pm

    As an avid reader and infrequent contributor to this outstanding site, I’d like to offer my congratulations on this good news. Good luck using that money toward improving your on-field product for 2010 and beyond.

  54. Pete Livengood on October 19th, 2009 1:26 pm

    joser wrote:

    “For that matter, why should the M’s be in the market for DH who can only DH? I know Edgar kind of spoiled us, but lots of teams — good teams — don’t have a full-time DH, and rotate guys through that spot because they have excess fielders with bats good enough you want to keep them in the lineup. Doesn’t that sound better?”

    In a vacuum, you are absolutely right. However, as I read recently on Tango’s blog (I believe it was MGL commenting – I can’t find it), there may be significant value to be realized from targeting DH-only types, precisely because the trend is to look for DHs who can also field a position. If you can spare the roster spot because of defensive versatility elsewhere (Hall, Hanahan, maybe even Tui, perhaps Ackley if he moves fast), and the all-hit, no-field guys continue to be as devalued as they were last year, I’d definitely be considering a DH-only guy….

  55. Erik E on October 19th, 2009 1:36 pm

    As far as the trade market for catchers is concerned, one name I’m hoping Z has up his sleeve is Ryan Doumit of Pittsburgh. There’s a lot to like about a switch hitter with 3 years left of team control who already has a 4 win season under his belt (2008). He probably wouldn’t come cheap, but considering the Pirates state of affairs, I can’t imagine he’d be “off-limits” if Z were to come knocking…

  56. Dave on October 19th, 2009 1:48 pm

    Kenji’s value this year if he had played 135-140 games (despite a shockingly bad offense, he was still on pace for about ~520 PA’s just like those 2 years): 2.1 WAR. If any given win is worth ~4 million on the FA market, then Kenji’s projected value for a full season of service is 8.4 million.

    The problem, of course, is that you can’t project Kenji as a full-time player, because there’s a 0% chance he’d have been used as a full-time player. It’s like projecting a reliever to throw 150 innings. Wak wasn’t going to use Kenji as anything more than a part-time guy, so what he could have done over some number of at-bats he wasn’t going to get is irrelevant.

    Yes, the contract was a boondoggle, but given the Mariners lack of depth at catcher and Kenji’s (good) regression this year, along with perhaps more consistent playing time…this is not reassuring except that it gives us money.

    The M’s just removed a negative value asset from the organization. If you had a house that was worth $100,000, but you owed $150,000, you should celebrate if the bank allows you out of your mortgage even though you are now homeless.

  57. Breadbaker on October 19th, 2009 1:52 pm

    Here’s at least one take that indicates that Kenji’s defense was A-1 Super Primo, while Rob Johnson was what we all thought Rob Johnson was.

  58. Pete Livengood on October 19th, 2009 2:05 pm

    I found the thread/comment I referred to above (and it was a Mariners-related thread to boot):

    http://tinyurl.com/yhrx89q

    In the context of a discussion about what the decision to give so many ABs to Junior cost the M’s, MGL first explains (just as joser did):

    “It is easy to find a player who can hit well and has no defensive value. The reason that the DH is a dying breed among many teams is apparently because teams like to carry so many pitchers, they don’t like to have DH’s who have no defensive value. IOW, the ‘dedicated’ DH is a dying breed. At least half the teams (or something like that) put a position player in the DH spot even if they are not good hitters.”

    Then he said:

    “I am going to make the assertion that you can obtain much better than a replacement DH for a league min salary if you don’t care about him having any defensive value. …[B]ecause teams are shying away from using dedicated DH’s, I think that one can acquire a well-above replacement level hitting DH for replacement level money, as long as you don’t care about defense.

    Then, in response to a question about who he might target as no-defense DH types who might be available for about replacement-level money, he offered these names off the top of his head, based on his pre-season projections sorted by projected OPS (he assumed at least some of these guys might be defensively-challenged):

    Josh Whitesell ARI .872
    Nelson Cruz (He is now a full-timer for TEX) .832
    Joe Koshanski COL .831
    Brain Bogusevic HOU .814
    Chris Dickerson CIN .805
    Max Ramirez TEX .800
    Jason Botts TEX .800
    Jason Perry ATL .803
    Andy Tracy PHI .805
    Tag Bozied FLO .806
    Scott McClain SFN .808
    Javier Brito ARI .811
    Jeff Clement SEA .816
    Dan Johnson TBA .817
    Chris Carter BOS .817
    Jason Dubois CHN .821
    Mike Hessman DET .833
    Mitch Jones LAN .836
    James D’Antonia ARI .839
    Dallas McPherson FLO .884

    Yes, Jeff Clement was on the list…..

  59. MKT on October 19th, 2009 2:06 pm

    Kenji brought us out of the wilderness at the catcher position.

    Yes, for all the criticisms of Johjima (and yes, his contract was inexplicable and bad), my main memory of him will be as they guy who led us out of the Olivo/Ben Davis wilderness. And, as hark pointed out, even his 2009 season wasn’t all that bad.

    All-time Mariners catchers: 1. Dan Wilson. 2. Kenji Johjima (and based on the stats joser cites, maybe Johjima should push Wilson aside). 3. Not worth mentioning.

    Sasaki led us out of the Ayala/Slocumb/Mesa wilderness, and Ichiro let us avoid even falling into a post-Buhner wilderness. We can’t always count on Japan bailing us out of roster wildernesses, but I can’t help thinking “Where have you gone Kenji Johjima, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you”.

  60. snapper on October 19th, 2009 2:10 pm

    For that matter, why should the M’s be in the market for DH who can only DH? I know Edgar kind of spoiled us, but lots of teams — good teams — don’t have a full-time DH, and rotate guys through that spot because they have excess fielders with bats good enough you want to keep them in the lineup. Doesn’t that sound better?

    The M’s desparately need offense, and, creaky knees and all Matsui can still hit. The Yankees need DH to rest ARod, Poasada, etc., so are unlikely to bring Matsui back. If he can’t be a Yankee, I think there is a very short list of teams Matsui will be willing to play for. Given the M’s Japanese ties, I’m sure they’re on that list, and he will probably not demand a large contract; $6-7M for 1 year is my guess.

    Plus, I’m guessing the M’s Japanese owners are involved in some sort of quid pro quo to get Johjima to opt out. Given that, they probably wouldn’t mind seeing the fruit of their largesse reinvested into one of the great Japanese players.

  61. Breadbaker on October 19th, 2009 2:17 pm

    I was struck by the difference in the interaction between Kenji and the pitchers for Team Japan in the WBC and the Mariners pitchers, particularly this year. In the WBC, even with someone like Daisuke on the mound (and after a great WBC he didn’t have a great season), Kenji seemed to be the man in charge. Then he gets back to Seattle and not so much. I wonder how much that contributed to his decision.

    I always liked him.

  62. mymrbig on October 19th, 2009 2:18 pm

    Any indication whether Jack Z should get any credit for this, or was this really just Johjima’s decision? Don’t want to give out feathers for hats or pats on the back that aren’t deserved!

  63. Pete Livengood on October 19th, 2009 2:22 pm

    Snapper, I may be willing to look at DH-only types, but I think Joser’s point is perfectly valid unless you can get one who is fairly young and cheap. Matsui is neither. At $5-6M, I don’t think you are maximizing the value you can realize at that position. And, despite the $$ cleared by Johjima’s opt-out, the M’s still need to get $$ value per win with the players they get this offseason. This doesn’t suddenly give Jack Z. carte blanche to go to the free agent market to address team needs….

  64. greenwood ave on October 19th, 2009 2:36 pm

    I’m impressed that Jack Z was able to convince Kenji to do this! Thanks for the memories Kenji, but I’m glad you are moving on…

  65. aNewYorkerWhoLovesIchiro on October 19th, 2009 2:57 pm

    This is completely off topic, but [completely off topic]

  66. jld on October 19th, 2009 2:58 pm

    [long link, use the link button]

  67. wickethewok on October 19th, 2009 2:59 pm

    This was probably the secret plan the whole time…

  68. djtizzo on October 19th, 2009 3:07 pm

    As far as the trade market for catchers is concerned, one name I’m hoping Z has up his sleeve is Ryan Doumit of Pittsburgh

    Great minds think alike! Ive been pondering this for a few years actually. This kid is lagit! My only fear is he will not come cheap at all, he is considered on several lists of Top 10 MLB catchers. Pit will milk that for a lot….the Braves were able to steal McLouth though, so maybe its our turn!

  69. dsmiley on October 19th, 2009 3:07 pm

    This sounds like a win-win for the Ms and for Kenji. Kenji went out with class and I appreciate all the hard work he put in with the Mariners. I’ll remember him well, if not quite fondly.

    I’m very excited to see what GMZ does with the extra Kenji money. Will he bring in a new catcher? Resign Beltre (please!)? Jack Wilson? Put the money in a Felix piggy bank? Something else? The off-season just got even more interesting.

  70. coreyjro on October 19th, 2009 3:22 pm

    While we’re pulling off miracles, does anyone think we can convince Carlos Silva to home too?

    Thanks Kenji. According to Fangraphs Kenji was worth nearly $30 million in his time here and the Mariners only paid him $25 million (assuming $8 million for ’09). I also respect the fact that he understands that you can’t put a price on happiness, and if you’re going to be happier at home making less money, then that’s what you should do.

  71. Pete Livengood on October 19th, 2009 3:59 pm

    Doumit has the local goodness, too (he’s from eastern Washington). According to Cot’s, too, it may even be better than three years of club control – he’s locked up for next year at $3.55M and 2011 at $5.1M, then there are two more years at club option (tied together) which the club must exercise (or buy out, for $500K) after the 2011 year ($7.25M in 2012, and $8.25M in 2013, which would be his age 32 year).

    That’s a fairly reasonable contract for a guy with some offensive ability and upside, especially with the cheap club out. However, Doumit’s had trouble staying healthy, and has a reputation as an average (at best) defensive catcher. He would certainly come with the risks associated with those things, and would be switching leagues to boot.

    Interestingly enough, Doumit’s fourth most similar batter is Kenji Johjima.

  72. ShaneA on October 19th, 2009 4:02 pm

    Dave-you stated:
    The M’s just removed a negative value asset from the organization. If you had a house that was worth $100,000, but you owed $150,000, you should celebrate if the bank allows you out of your mortgage even though you are now homeless.

    Would you be willing to keep the house if the bank forgave $50,000 of the loan so you only owed what the house was worth? On the same note, would you be willing to keep Joh if he forgave part of his contract? Or would you still rather just be out from underneath it (homeless)?

  73. Mike Snow on October 19th, 2009 4:16 pm

    The answer to that would mostly depend on how you view the asset’s prospects for appreciation or depreciation. In most situations (but not the past few years), real estate is considered an asset that’s likely to appreciate in value. That’s in contrast to, say, a car, which is subject to inexorable depreciation. Which do you think best describes a 33-year-old catcher?

  74. ShaneA on October 19th, 2009 4:19 pm

    Good point on the depreciation of the asset.

  75. TranquilPsychosis on October 19th, 2009 4:43 pm

    Would you be willing to keep the house if the bank forgave $50,000 of the loan so you only owed what the house was worth? On the same note, would you be willing to keep Joh if he forgave part of his contract? Or would you still rather just be out from underneath it (homeless)?

    I’m not too sure that the Players Union would look very kindly on any player just forgiving part of his contractual income because he has depreciated in skill. The precedent that would set would undermine a bit of their strength.

  76. Matt the Dragon on October 19th, 2009 6:57 pm

    Fure! Fure! Fure!

  77. philosofool on October 19th, 2009 7:44 pm

    The M’s just removed a negative value asset from the organization. If you had a house that was worth $100,000, but you owed $150,000, you should celebrate if the bank allows you out of your mortgage even though you are now homeless.

    Not a good analogy.

    Kenji was owing several million on a home worth a fraction of that, and the bank just said “Pay us what it’s actually worth instead of what you owe.”

  78. DMZ on October 19th, 2009 7:56 pm

    And in that analogy, the M’s are Kenji? What?

  79. msb on October 19th, 2009 8:01 pm

    Nero tells Larry Stone that it was all Joh’s notion.

    I suppose that wouldn’t preclude Mr Yamauchi giving Joh a lovely parting gift.

  80. diderot on October 19th, 2009 8:44 pm

    Nero tells Larry Stone that it was all Joh’s notion.

    So, for all the conspiracy theorists here, maybe time to just sit back and relax for a minute. Respect the man and his decision.

    Second, for those dancing on Kenji’s contractual grave, remember that this leaves us with Moore and (maybe if he heals) Johnson as a catching tandem. And Wak, for whatever reason, fails to observe the sinkhole that is Johnson every time he approaches the plate, either with a bat or a mask. This decision makes us worse on the field, if better on the payroll.

    Third, for those gleeful about spending the Kenji savings on a free agent catcher–really? You really think anyone on that list is a better bet than Kenji bouncing back from his .233 and .248 BABIPs the last two seasons?

    Fourth, please realize that knocking the decrepit DH theory does not necessarily equate the putrid season by Griffey with the productive season by Matsui. All DHs are not created equal.

    And finally, using homeless people as an analogy for this discussion is beneath this site.

  81. Liam on October 19th, 2009 8:49 pm

    If Kenji didn’t have an opt-out clause, is there anything that would prevent him from “retiring” from MLB and signing a contract in the NPB?

  82. Alex on October 19th, 2009 9:16 pm

    Wooooo!!!!!

    The first Mariner news of the offseason and its great. :)

  83. Adam B. on October 19th, 2009 9:23 pm

    diderot:

    for those dancing on Kenji’s contractual grave, remember that this leaves us with Moore and (maybe if he heals) Johnson as a catching tandem. And Wak, for whatever reason, fails to observe the sinkhole that is Johnson every time he approaches the plate, either with a bat or a mask. This decision makes us worse on the field, if better on the payroll.

    I think the reason everyone here is pretty gleeful is the fact that we have a little more confidence in Zduriencik’s ability to spend $8M effectively, then we do in Johjima’s ability to be worth $8M as a middle aged catcher coming off an injury plagued season.

    Personally I don’t see a huge trade off in performance moving from Johjima to a Moore/Johjima/Catcher X situation. I think that whatever difference in production the Mariners suffer from losing Johjima, will be more then offset by the potential gains of a much more flexible payroll.

  84. eponymous coward on October 19th, 2009 10:30 pm

    Well, OK, everybody Go back to Dave’s October 6 article and add 8 million… and we see that now Jack Z. has more like ~2.1 million per WAR to play with in salary flexibility, instead of ~1.7.

    This helps things, but it still means Zduriencik isn’t going to be able to sign the Mariners into contention (unless management is willing to REALLY crank the budget up, which is dubious).

  85. 95Ms on October 19th, 2009 10:42 pm

    I echo what lots of others have said. I want to add my voice of thanks to Kenji for his hard work and the time he gave to help our team. To me, he always seemed to be giving it his best. In my judgement, that unfortunately seems to be a problem in today’s sports culture. That’s all I think one can do in life. I don’t know the factors that went into his decision of course. But, if some of it was made on the basis of what is better for the team, a huge thanks even more to you Mr. Johjima. I will never know, but I wanted to put that out there. Much appreciation. Best wishes for the man and his family.

  86. diderot on October 19th, 2009 10:57 pm

    we have a little more confidence in Zduriencik’s ability to spend $8M effectively

    Adam, I agree.

    My point was for those who apparently think we should go out immediately and spend the cash on the best available free agent catcher.
    If the money goes instead to more scouting or international free agents or cheaper beer at Safeco, fine. I just fear the knee jerk reaction of spend-it-now for someone who won’t serve us better than Kenji.

    But then, as you say, it’s Z making the decision.

  87. mariners2009 on October 19th, 2009 11:47 pm

    we have a little more confidence in Zduriencik’s ability to spend $8M effectively

    Should he just save this money for Felix in the future?

  88. Adam B. on October 20th, 2009 12:07 am

    I don’t think the Mariners should earmark money for anything yet. I don’t think Zduriencik has chiseled anything in stone as to his off-season plans; Outside of general goals perhaps, and this “windfall” may or may not have any impact on what he does this off-season.

    I do agree that I don’t think the Mariners can simply buy their way into the post-season.
    The cash and free agents available just aren’t conducive to that approach, and it’s not the way a smart team operates.

    What we can conclude is that this team has been very astute at acquiring quality players within a very limited budget, and I don’t think that approach is thrown out the window simply because a few more dollars show up.

  89. The Ancient Mariner on October 20th, 2009 7:04 am

    this leaves us with Moore and (maybe if he heals) Johnson as a catching tandem. And Wak, for whatever reason, fails to observe the sinkhole that is Johnson every time he approaches the plate, either with a bat or a mask. This decision makes us worse on the field, if better on the payroll.

    No, it doesn’t make us worse on the field, because Johnson was going to be the main guy regardless. Nor does this leave us with Moore and Johnson as a catching tandem — Moore probably isn’t ready, and if you go up and look at crelsner’s post, you’ll see there are plenty of serviceable catchers out there who shouldn’t cost much, some of whom at least could probably give us roughly comparable production to what we would have been likely to get out of Kenji.

    And finally, using homeless people as an analogy for this discussion is beneath this site.

    Nobody was. Chill.

  90. henryv on October 20th, 2009 6:46 pm

    Thank freaking God.

    It’s not that I don’t appreciate what Kenji has done, but rather that I have no interest in having him on the roster for that insanely stupid price tag.

    This is one of the best pieces of new the M’s have had in quite a while.

  91. poetfiend on October 21st, 2009 12:49 pm

    Even as he parts
    he surprises us still: he
    will not block the plate.

  92. thebigp708 on October 22nd, 2009 1:18 pm

    HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!

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