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Kenji Johjima opts out of deal, will return to Japan

Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima announced today that he will opt out of the final two years of his contract and resume his career in Japan. The 33-year old catcher leaves after four seasons with the Mariners, a career .268 average, and 48 home runs.

"After lots of very deep thought and deliberation, I have decided to return home to resume my career in Japan," Johjima. "I have had a wonderful experience competing at the Major League level. The last four years have been extraordinary, with great teammates and great coaches.

After two solid seasons, offensively, his numbers dropped dramatically and his movement behind the plate was limited. The Mariners can now use Rob Johnson or Adam Moore behind the plate, but his departure frees up 16 million dollars that would have gone to him over the next two seasons. 

Johjima will return to Japan where he is regarded as more than a star, owning a career .298 average with 187 home runs. His best year came in 2004 when he hit .338 with 36 home runs in 116 games. 

If the Mariners decide to add another backstop, they could look into Rod Barajas or former Mariner Jason Varitek