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Kenji Johjima Rumors
Here's a few links on a gorgeous Saturday, at least around these parts…
- Acquiring Carlos Gomez allows the Brewers to wave goodbye to Mike Cameron, and Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel says they'll use the savings on pitching. "We're going to have to take our resources that we gave to Mike and distribute them to fill other needs for our ballclub," said GM Doug Melvin. "We've said pitching is our focus. We still have other needs, like any club. And the salaries of our other players go up, too."
- The return of Manny Ramirez allows the Dodgers to resume searching for a trade partner for Juan Pierre, according to Dylan Hernandez of The LA Times. Pierre still has two-years and $18.5MM remaining on his contract.
- In today's blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney says that Brandon Webb will be prime trade bait in the middle of next season if he makes it all the way back and the Diamondbacks aren't in contention.
- Jason A. Churchill of Prospect Insider takes a look at some offseason options for the Mariners.
- Meanwhile, former Mariner Kenji Johjima can provide some additional input on American pitchers the Hanshin Tigers may pursue, notes Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. Patrick also passes along a report that lists some pitchers Hanshin is looking at, including two Mariners: Ryan Rowland-Smith and Chris Jakubauskas.
- Rowland-Smith is on Twitter, and was a little surprised by the news.
- Bob Dutton of The KC Star takes a look at the newest Royals, Chris Getz and Josh Fields.
- Maury Brown at The Biz of Baseball lists all 39 players who filed for free agency on Friday.
Catcher Kenji Johjima reached an agreement with the Hanshin Tigers, according to reports passed along by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman. One of the reports indicates it's a four-year deal worth around $27MM (the AP says $21MM). It seems that Johjima actually topped the two years and $16MM left on his Mariners contract.
Perhaps the Ms will reallocate some of Johjima's money toward free agents. We analyzed their needs in our Offseason Outlook yesterday.
Some links for Friday morning…
- Roch Kubatko of MASN.com doesn't expect the Orioles to win the bidding for free agent lefty Aroldis Chapman, but the club doesn't have a policy against signing Cuban defectors, according to a high-ranking Orioles official.
- Tyler Hissey of Around the Majors takes a look at this year's class of free agent second basemen. Players like Mark DeRosa and Freddy Sanchez have value, but Hissey doesn't see a true star among the group.
- MLB.com's Carrie Muskat says the Cubs aren't going to sign DeRosa just because he's popular. Jeff Baker is currently the frontrunner to start at second base next year.
- Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog thinks John Lackey, who turns 31 today, would be a fantastic pitcher for Citi Field.
- The Blue Jays are looking for a Canadian scout and, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, have received permission from the Phillies to interview a member of their front office for the job.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker compiles a list of players who could spend next season in Japan, including Kenji Johjima and Eric Hinske.
- Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle points out that most of baseball's best-respected managers improved in their second or third stints.
- Felix Perez, the Cuban outfielder who was suspended for lying to the Yankees about his age, has been reinstated, according to Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com.
As the champagne chills in the Philadelphia clubhouse, here are some late-night newsbits….
- Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald reports that during a conference call with Japanese press members, Kenji Johjima said that a lack of playing time was the main reason he opted out of his contract with the Mariners. He and the team cited Johjima's desire to be closer to his family in Japan as the primary reason for his leaving Seattle two days ago.
- Milwaukee assistant general manger Gord Ash chatted with fans on Wednesday about the Brewers' minor league prospects. Perhaps the most notable item from the chat was Ash's admission that there will be a "gap" of time before the Brewers can get some pitching help from the farm since most of their best young hurlers are at least a year or two away.
- Albert Pujols' arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday was "a success" according to a team statement noted by MLB.com's Matthew Leach. The not-insignificant procedure shouldn't lead to any missed playing time for Pujols, who is expected to be fit and ready for spring training.
11:24pm: Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com says the Cubs will announce the signing of Jaramillo tomorrow. The Cubs paid up for the hitting coach's services – three years, $2.42MM.
6:01pm: SI.com's Jon Heyman discusses a variety of hot stove topics in his latest column and in an appearance on WFAN, which Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog summarizes. Here are a few of Heyman's main points….
- The Mets will be the main player for Matt Holliday, with the Giants and Braves in the mix as well. In addition to the Cardinals, the Red Sox and Yankees are also contenders for the star outfielder.
- Rather than make a run at Roy Halladay, the Mets may be more inclined to sign free agents and keep their top prospects.
- Intermin manager Jim Riggleman is the favorite to manage the Washington Nationals in 2010.
- The Mariners' management is glad that Kenji Johjima opted out of his deal, since they "never thought much of him as a player." That's Heyman's quote, not anything from the team.
- Rudy Jaramillo, who seems likely to become the Cubs' hitting coach, has had success working with Alfonso Soriano in the past. Heyman hears that Jaramillo will sign a multi-year deal with Chicago that will make him the highest-paid hitting coach in the league.
A few more evening links….
- Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times says that Kenji Johjima's opt-out is "an early Christmas present" for the Mariners.
- Meanwhile, Rob Johnson has one surgery down and one to go, according to MLB.com's Jim Street. Johnson will battle for time behind the plate in Seattle next season, with Johjima's departure resulting in one less competitor.
- Speaking of offseason surgeries, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that Albert Pujols will have elbow surgery tomorrow. Breathe easy though, Cardinals fans: according to Rosenthal, Pujols expects to be fully healthy for spring training.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com breaks down four of the confirmed finalists for the Cleveland Indians' managerial opening.
- Of the candidates for the Indians' job, Manny Acta would be the best choice for appealing to the team's Latino players, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Pluto anticipates Latinos to make up about a third of the team's 25-man roster in 2010.
- The San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman looks at the Super Two rule, and explains why Tim Lincecum's extra week of major-league service could mean a big payday for the Cy Young winner.
Links for Tuesday…
- Chat today, 2pm CST.
- The Hanshin Tigers are interested in Kenji Johjima, according to Kyodo News.
- The Rockies are expected to re-sign GM Dan O'Dowd and manager Jim Tracy this week, according to Patrick Saunders and Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
- Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times says the Dodgers "are mindful that [signing Yusei Kikuchi] could harm the club's long-standing ties in Japan." Kikuchi told Kyodo News that interviewing with 12 NPB and eight MLB clubs made his decision even more difficult. NPB Tracker has more.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle says Brad Lidge for Michael Bourn has been "the perfect trade." In that November 2007 deal, the Phillies also received infielder Eric Bruntlett and the Astros also acquired Geoff Geary and Mike Costanzo (Geary is now a free agent). I'd say the Astros may ultimately win the deal if Bourn's breakout season holds up, since they gave up one year of Lidge for five of Bourn. But, as Justice noted, the Phillies have a ring.
- Always fun…Dave Cameron's 2010 offseason plan for the Mariners at U.S.S. Mariner. My one beef is the John Danks acquisition…I don't think it fits from Chicago's point of view.
- Viva El Birdos takes a look at the Cardinals' 2010 commitments.
- MLB.com's Mychael Urban discusses Justin Duchscherer's future.
5:16pm: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times talked to Johjima's agent Alan Nero, who confirmed the Mariners are free of the $16MM left on his client's contract. It is rare, but not unprecedented, for a ballplayer to walk away from that kind of money. Nero explained Johjima's opt-out clause in further detail to Baker as well.
Zduriencik wouldn't comment on the allocation of the found money, but you have to think the Mariners now have extra flexibility in free agency. On the other hand, they now need a veteran catcher.
12:34pm: According to Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, there was no buyout.
11:36am: 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 freed from the $16MM they'd have owed Johjima over 2010-11, though Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune says the parties "came to an agreement on a buyout."
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.
According to Larry LaRue of the Seattle News Tribune, reserve Jamie Burke was designated for assignment by the Marines today to make room for Kenji Johjima. This marks the third time this season that the veteran catcher has been DFA'd. Says LaRue,
Over the next 10 days, Burke, 37, will either be traded, claimed by another team or offered a minor league deal. LaRue writes,
"He still wants to play, thinks he can still help a pitching staff, still do the small things a reserve is asked to do. Will he ever get another chance? That's uncertain, and he knows it. If he returns to the Seattle minor league system, he could be brought up in September – but the Mariners by then could want to look, instead, at Adam Moore."
According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, a slew of catchers are being shopped to the Red Sox. Among them: Jeff Mathis, Mike Napoli, Brian Schneider, Miguel Montero, John Buck, Ramon Hernandez, Bengie Molina, Carlos Santana, Kelly Shoppach, Victor Martinez, Jesus Flores, Kenji Johjima, Jeff Clement, Yorvit Torrealba, and the Rangers’ guys. Silverman says the Braves, Cardinals, and Rays also have catchers available. It seems that teams are asking for players like Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, or Lars Anderson in some cases.
On the Jason Varitek front, Scott Boras told the AP yesterday that he’s had no financial discussions with the Red Sox. He expects the matter to be discussed after Thanksgiving. Curt Schilling commented last week about Varitek possibly playing fewer games in 2009, but Boras shot down the idea of a reduced role.
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