What's going to happen now that Kenji Johjima has signed his three year extension? Where does that leave Jeff Clement?
Let's start it off like this: Extending Joh isn't a terrible idea. The money may seem a little high. Jorge Posada signed a four year contract worth $52.4M last Winter. Posada is a few years older than Joh, and is quite a bit better. Posada isn't really a fair model based on that information, but that's about the best that we got. $8M is a lot of money, not much in baseball nowadays, has Joh proved that he is worth that much? I think that he might have. He has a career line of .289/.327/.442 alongside 32 HR and 137 RBI. That would be in 991 AB's over the past two seasons. Pretty decent numbers for a catcher. He also set the record for most hits by a rookie catcher in 2006 with 147. The offense is there. Joh has only comitted nine errors over the last two seasons, only 2 in '07. Not bad defender. One of the most important things in my opinion, is that he knows that Mariners pitching staff.
He's spent the last two seasons catching for pretty much the same crop of pitchers, and have created some chemistry. He knows the pitchers well, therefore he can comunicate with them well. Brining someone new would axe all of the chemistry that has brewed. Even Jeff Clement wouldn't be able to adjust quick enough (if he were to start right now).
Know that I've proved Joh has value, it's time to look at what he takes away from the club. The biggest issue surrounds Jeff Clement. He's ready to hit in the MLB. He might not be quite ready to field and all that, but he can sure hit the ball. It's been widely believed that Clement would take over for Joh after this season. Now that Joh is locked up, presumably in the catcher's spot, for three years, where would Clement play? The Mariners haven't been very fond of moving him to first, an option that makes sense. Bringinig him up to DH would take away AB's from Jose Vidro, which might not allow his option for '09 to vest. Morphing him in to a 1B would be perfect, but I wouldn't want to do that because of the high level of prospect that Clement is as a catcher, something rare, and highly sought after. Clement popped up in trade rumors for Johan Santana and Erik Bedard. I'm sure that he could fetch a high price. Trading him would be a tough pill to swallow, especially after losing another blue-chipper in Adam Jones would be incredibly tough to swallow. Bleeding Blue and Teal brings up Adam Moore, a young catcher with promise, that could be ready come 2011, or '12. The same time that Joh's deal dries up. I like the idea of Moore taking over in a few years, he is solid defensively, but how good defensively does he have to be to even up with Clement's offensive upside? My guess, pretty good. Right now, Moore for Clement doesn't look like a good tradeoff, but would Clement would be able to bring in to the organization would determine that. He definitly could replinish the young pitching prospects lost in the Erik Bedard trade. Or he could get you someone for now. He might be able to get the Mariners a player like Jason Bay of the Pirates. About the same offensive potential as Ibanez, but with better fielding abilities, wayyyyy better, and some speed. Not to mention that he's younger.
Overall, there are mixed reactions to Joh's extension. No matter which way you look at it, there's going to be people unhappy and happy. Let's just try and look at the fact that the Mariners lock up a solid catcher for three years at less than he probably would've commanded on the open market.