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.