Johjima bails out Mariners, if MLBPA has no say

Leave a comment

While already saying all of the right things, the Mariners are undoubtedly thrilled to have Kenji Johjima’s $8 million salary in each of the next two seasons off the books. They’re even reportedly getting out from under the disastrous contract without having to pay a buyout. By playing it as strictly Johjima’s decision, they’re going to be in the clear with baseball. One wonders if the Players Association will let it go so easily.
After all, the MLBPA is more interested in what’s best for the union as a whole than what an individual player may desire. That was made clear after the 2003 season, when the union would not allow Alex Rodriguez to restructure his deal as he desired in order to facilitate a trade to the Red Sox.
In this case, Johjima, the game’s third highest-paid catcher behind Jorge Posada and Joe Mauer, is giving up $16 million without receiving a penny in return. He’ll return to Japan and command a fine salary there, but it won’t rival what he was going to make as a Mariner.
Of course, Johjima will no longer be a part of the MLBPA then. And the $16 million he was due to make figures to be divvied up and given to other members of the MLBPA. The demand for this year’s crop of catchers just got a little greater, and guys like Bengie Molina, Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Varitek could benefit as a result.
So will the Players Association step in? Probably not. Should the union? If there’s some evidence that Johjima was told he’d return to the Mariners as a backup and was pressured into opting out, it definitely should. But there won’t be any evidence unless Johjima wants a fight, and odds are that he’ll be perfectly content returning home as one of Japan’s highest-paid players. It’ll be a big win for the Mariners, and a nice treat for Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, who finds himself completely off the hook for one of the team’s biggest mistakes from Bill Bavasi’s tenure.

Melvin Upton released by the Giants

Getty Images
1 Comment

Jon Heyman reports that the Giants have released outfielder Melvin Upton. He requested his release.

Upton, who turned 33 yesterday, signed with San Francisco in early April after the Blue Jays released him. It was a minor league deal. After recovering from a rash of minor injuries, Upton batted .244/.306/.333 in 12 games at Triple-A Sacramento. There was no indication that the Giants were going to call him up. I presume that, back when they signed him, they figured they’d be contending and could maybe use a veteran bat. That’s obviously not the case anymore.

I suppose it’s possible that someone gives Upton a look when rosters expand in eight days, but I figure it’s more likely that we’ll next see him as he fights to make a team on a minor league deal next spring.

Carlos Santana left last night’s game with back tightness

Getty Images
3 Comments

Andrew Miller leaving last night’s Indians-Red Sox game got all the press, but the Indians lost another key player in the game as well: Carlos Santana. He was forced to leave after going 0-for-3. There was no followup announcement after the game, so he’s likely being reevaluated.

Santana is hitting .250/.355/.446 on the year, but he’s been pretty hot of late, hitting .375 with a couple of homers in the past week.