04/25/2008 4:06 PM ET
Mariners sign Kenji Johjima to three-year contract extension
Catcher now signed through 2011
SEATTLE -- Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Bill Bavasi announced today that the Mariners have agreed to terms with catcher Kenji Johjima on a three-year contract extension.
Johjima, who was eligible for free agency at the end of this season, is now signed through 2011. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
"As an organization, we view quality Major League catching as a scarce commodity," Bavasi said. "This extension allows us to feel very comfortable with our catching depth for the foreseeable future."
Johjima, 31, was among the top catchers, both offensively and defensively, in 2007. Among AL catchers, he ranked third in hits (139), fourth in average (.287), doubles (29) and RBI (61) and fifth in home runs (14). He caught 39.5% of attempted base thieves, second-best in the AL. From May 1 - to the end of the 2007 season, he nabbed 30 of 68 (44%).
Johjima, who signed prior to the 2006 season, has caught 2,444.1 innings over the past three seasons, third-most in the Majors (Jason Kendall - 2579.1, Russell Martin - 2,446.0).
"Joh is a durable, intelligent catcher," Mariners Manager John McLaren said, "and he's still improving his game. It is a very tough adjustment to switch leagues from Japan, and he has done an outstanding job adapting his game to the US."
In his rookie season (2006) Johjima set an American League record for hits by a rookie catcher (147), while tying for first among all AL rookies with a .297 batting average. He also led all AL rookies in home runs (18), RBI (76), multi-hit games (40), hits, total bases (228) and extra-base hits (44). Johjima homered on Opening Day for his first Major League hit.
In 299 Major League games with Seattle, Johjima is a career .283 (299x1056) hitter with 57 doubles, one triple, 32 HR and 142 RBI. He's been hit by 24 pitches, ninth in the American League, over that span. On April 15 vs. Kansas City, he recorded his 1,500th career hit combined between 11 seasons in Japan and three seasons with the Mariners.
Johjima was a seven-time Gold Glove winner, and a six-time post-season All-Star, in Japan. He amassed a career .299 average with 211 home runs and 699 RBI in 11 seasons with Japan's Pacific League Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks. He was a member of three Pacific League Championship teams (1999, 2000, 2003), and won Japan League titles in 1999 and 2003.