With Opening Day just a week away for the Seattle Mariners, they have been busy making moves to shape their 25-man roster for the season. On Sunday and Monday, the roster was given a bit of a clearer look.
The Seattle Mariners have had a heated battle for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation throughout Spring Training, and that battle is now complete.
Nate Karns and James Paxton came into the spring looking to solidify themselves in the starting rotation on Opening Day, but manager Scott Servais has ultimately chosen Karns to be that fifth starter even though he will pitch Monday in Peoria against the Royals.
“It was based on where James is at and it’s about getting the player in the right spot when the season starts,’’ Servais said. “Thought it was in his best interest and ours, let’s go and let’s move ahead on this thing.’’
Karns was acquired in the offseason through a trade from the Rays, and had an up and down spring, but it was enough to beat out Paxton. The right-hander didn’t have the best spring, per say, with an ERA of 6.75 in 16 innings pitched coming into Monday’s start in Peoria against the Royals, but it was enough to earn him the job.
It was enough to earn Karns the job, but it also could have been who wasn’t worse.
Paxton really had a tough spring, in five starts he posted an ERA of 10.80, not including a minor league start in which he pitched fairly well. Paxton came into Spring Training in much better shape and was hoping to avoid the injury bug that has bitten him the past few seasons, but he’ll have to wait in the meantime down in Triple-A Tacoma.
“We all know James Paxton is going to be a big part of our team at some point this season,’’ Servais said. He has not had a great spring — he will be the first to admit it. He just wasn’t getting the results and this is a results-driven league.’’
The rest of the Mariners rotation looks like a solid group.
It is obviously headlined by Felix Hernandez who will make another Opening Day start next Monday in Texas, but has some solid names behind him in Hisashi Iwakuma, Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker, and now Karns.
Other Roster Moves
Along with sending Paxton to Triple-A Tacoma, infielder Chris Taylor and infielder/outfielder Stefen Romero were also sent down to Triple-A. First baseman Dae-ho Lee, who was signed in the offseason to battle for the right-handed platoon spot, was also added to the 40-man roster.
Romero may have been the casualty of having a minor league option left on his contract which enabled the Mariners to keep around Lee who has also shown that he can get it done for the Mariners this spring.
Taylor, on the other hand, had a tough spring. That, along with Luis Sardinas having a great spring, made it a fairly easy decision for Servais when picking the utility infielder for the club.
“Chris had as tough a camp as you could have,’’ Servais said. “I think he put a lot of pressure on himself early and then he just tried to relax and go play and that didn’t work out so good either. So it happens, it happens to players.”
Jesus Montero was also placed on waivers by Seattle over the weekend and a claim was placed on him by the Blue Jays.
There are now 32 players left in Major League camp with the roster needing to be cut down to 25 by Monday’s Opening Day game at Texas.
[Quotes via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times]