Johjima to Hanshin
As was already rumored from the moment he opted out, Kenji Johjima is signing with the Hanshin Tigers. It’s reportedly a 4-year deal for $21 million. So that’s more money than he’s giving up by opting out of his contract (more years too, obviously). We can speculate all we want about some quiet backroom payment, but the public stance that the Mariners paid no buyout is consistent with this, which pretty much shows none was needed.
And really, if Kenji was going to be a free agent again, in either the Japanese or American markets, he was probably better off doing it now than in two years when his extension finally ran out, with his body breaking down and performance declining even more precipitously. It’s also an indication of just how impressive his career has been that someone’s still willing to pay him this kind of money. How many catchers can you think of that signed two different multiyear, multimillion-dollar free agent contracts, let alone with a multiyear, multimillion-dollar extension in between? Okay, so he only played one year under the extension, but consider also that coming from Japan, he had to wait nine years for free agency.
For us, the extension was awful and its timing even worse, but we should remember what a bargain his initial contract was. The salary was about the same as his Hanshin contract, and if the terms of his extension had been along the same lines, well it’s still a bad idea to hitch yourself to an aging catcher, but it wouldn’t have been quite as horrible.