Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima today said he was "opting out" of the last two years of his contract and returning to Japan. According to that ESPN.com link:
The team had signed the 33-year-old catcher to a $24 million, three-year extension that began last year. The Mariners said the contract included a clause that allowed Johjima to opt out of the final two years of his deal.
Hmmm. Cot's Baseball Contracts, which nearly always lists opt-out clauses -- note that they do for Aramis Ramirez's deal -- has no such listing under the Mariners' contract listings for any such opt-out for Johjima:
Kenji Johjima c 3 years/$24M (2009-11) * 3 years/$24M (2009-11) o signed extension with Seattle 4/25/08 o 09:$8M, 10:$8M, 11:$8M
According to the Tacoma News-Tribune, in this case "opting out" means exactly what it says -- he simply "opted out" of being paid for the next two years:
Was Johjima forced out with $16 million left on his contract? No. Kenji had an option to return to Japan and used it - leaving all $16 million on the table by walking away.
Does Kosuke Fukudome have such an "option" that we might not know about? And would he opt to return to Japan after two not-so-productive years in Chicago? If he did, that would save the Cubs $13 million in 2010 and $13.5 million in 2011. Or perhaps the Cubs could buy out the rest of his deal for less than $26.5 million.
Note: I don't know whether this is the case or not and I'm not necessarily promoting the idea. But it is food for thought. Discuss.