Based on the agreed-upon guidelines for the 2020 MLB season, the Mariners trimmed their 30-man roster down to 28 on Thursday morning, optioning first baseman/outfielder Jose Marmolejos and right-handed reliever Bryan Shaw to the team’s alternative training site in Tacoma.
All teams were allowed to have a 30-man active roster for the first 15 days of their season, then trim down to 28 players. MLB and the MLB Players Association have agreed to scrap the original plan of trimming down to 26 players in another 15 days, so the 28-player active roster will remain for the rest of the 2020 season, including the postseason. Teams can also increase their traveling taxi squad of players not on the roster from three players to five. Also, teams participating in a doubleheader can add a 29th player for that day.
With COVID-19 outbreaks hampering the Marlins and Cardinals and players restricted from taking commercial flights to join teams in the middle of a road trip, keeping the rosters at 28 and increasing the taxi squad makes sense.
“I think it’s the right decision, certainly with things that have popped up with different teams,” Servais said. “We’re gone for eight games in nine days on our next trip. If something would happen in the middle or end of that trip, you’re really without players. So it gives you options to add guys if you need. This is an abnormal year, obviously, so you have to be willing to adapt and adjust, and I was glad to see the league and [players] union agree to that. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Marmolejos, 27, made his major-league debut on opening day against the Astros and hit his first MLB home run July 30 in Anaheim but didn’t do much else at the plate, posting a .103 batting average in eight games. He signed as a minor-league free agent in the offseason. Given Seattle’s roster, he always seemed to be the leading candidate to go back to Tacoma when rosters trimmed. He had played sparingly in the last week.
“Marmo had a really good camp,” Servais said. “We liked how he was swinging the bat, but obviously he’s not getting a ton of playing time here. I do like the fact he can play left field and some first base, but just looking where we’re at roster-wise, we needed to pare down.”
Shaw, 32, really struggled in four appearances with the Mariners, pitching 3 1/3 innings and allowing 10 earned runs (27.00 ERA) on 10 hits with four walks and a hit batter. Of the 92 pitches he threw this season for Seattle, he had a total of five swings and misses.
Seattle signed Shaw just before opening day as a free agent after the Rockies released him with one year remaining on his three-year, $27 million contract. Colorado is paying for the prorated portion of Shaw’s $9 million salary ($3.3 million) along with a $2 million buyout for the 2021 season. The Mariners had to pay him only the prorated league minimum to put him on the roster.
“We like some things we saw from Bryan, but certainly the results were not what we’re looking for,” Servais said. “So he’s agreed to go to our alternate site and work on some things like pitch location and pitch shaping. He’s all in on it, so it’s an opportunity for us to try to get him on track. I think he’s still got something to offer and can help us out at some point.”
Kyle Lewis was out of the Mariners starting lineup Thursday for the first time this season. Servais has been trying to get Lewis a day off on this homestand to keep him fresh, but that’s been difficult because Lewis was hitting so well at the plate. A day game after a night game offered a perfect opportunity.
Shortstop J.P. Crawford, who has played in every game this season, including Thursday’s loss to the Angels, is also due for an off day.
“It is a grind, and our young guys, they’re playing well, they’re getting all their work in,” Servais said. “But I think it’s important to give them a (break), mentally as well as physically.”