Johjima bails out Mariners, if MLBPA has no say

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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.

Twins reach historic home run total during 11-4 rout of White Sox

Max Kepler
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The Twins trampled the White Sox on Friday night, cruising to a cool 11-4 lead over their division rivals and collecting their sixth double-digit win of 2019. Even more impressive, they picked up their 99th, 100th, and 101st home runs, a feat that’s rarely been matched in a team’s first 50 games of any given season.

The first homer of the night was delivered by Eddie Rosario in the third inning. Working against a single-run deficit, Rosario lifted an 0-1 fastball from the White Sox’ Reynaldo López, planting it firmly in the left field stands and evening the score, 4-4. Two batters later, Rosario’s solo home run got a sequel: a 398-footer from Miguel Sanó, this one postmarked for the upper deck in left.

In the fourth, now leading 5-4, the Twins saw a third and final homer from the bat of Max Kepler, whose center-field blast traveled a projected 397 feet to give the club a two-run advantage. Per MLB Stats, the Twins’ record — 101 homers in 50 games — stands second only to that of the 1999 Mariners, who managed to club 102 home runs before their 51st game of the season.

While the record has undoubtedly been a team effort, Rosario leads the pack with a team-best 15 homers so far this year, closely followed by C.J. Cron (13), Max Kepler (11), and Jonathan Schoop (10). Sanó, whose solo shot marked the team’s 100th home run of 2019, has just five, though there’s little doubt he’ll reach double digits before the end of the season.

According to MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park, the Twins also made it to an even 300 runs scored in 2019, for a satisfying average of six runs per game and a new franchise record (previous high mark: 273 runs scored in 1992). With the win, they improved to 34-16 on the year and continue to hold a comfortable eight-game lead in the AL Central.