Mariners to put money to use?

Kazuhiro Sasaki's decision play in Japan in 2004, thus free up a big chunk of money for the Mariners to play with.

Updated: January 22, 2004, 10:16 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
As someone said at Lakehurst, New Jersey when the Hindenburg exploded in 1937, "Now there's something you don't see everyday." In this case, it's not an exploding Zeppelin that's the not-everyday occurrence, but a major league baseball player walking away from contract guarantees of over $9 million. The player is Kazuhiro Sasaki, the Seattle Mariners closer since 2000 and their highest-paid player. Citing a desire to remain in his native Japan, Sasaki -- who saved 129 games (in 151 chances) for Seattle -- has opted not to play in 2004, thus freeing up a big chunk of money for the Mariners to play with.

His countryman, Ichiro Suzuki had this to say about the decision: "I've (always) wanted to play behind a closer like Sasaki," he told John Hickey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "He is also a person who fervently courted me (when) I wanted to come to play in the major leagues. I'm surprised, and I will miss him."

Kazuhiro Sasaki
Kazuhiro Sasaki's decision to leave the Mariners has not bothered fans in Seattle.
Here is a sampling of the reaction in the Seattle press.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at