Neither move came as a surprise, as both have struggled in the early going of this shortened season and will now join the group of 32 players who continue working out at Cheney Stadium and are available to be recalled over the remaining seven weeks of the schedule.
MLB originally had agreed to 30-man Opening Day rosters and then cuts to 28 after two weeks and to 26 after four weeks, but that decision has now been amended to allow rosters to remain at 28 for the rest of the season as well as the postseason.
Rosters were expanded to allow teams to carry extra players after the short Summer Camp following the unprecedented 3 1/2-month shutdown due to the pandemic, and the Mariners used that to open the season with a 17-man pitching staff, including 11 relievers instead of the normal seven or eight.
They’ll still have a 10-man relief crew, along with six starters, as manager Scott Servais intends to stick with a six-man rotation even with Kendall Graveman now on the 10-day injured list and expected to miss at least several starts with a neck issue.
Lefty Nick Margevicius will step into Graveman’s spot in the rotation on Saturday against the Rockies. With Shaw now in Tacoma, that leaves right-handers Taylor Williams, Matt Magill, Dan Altavilla, Carl Edwards Jr., Yohan Ramirez, Erik Swanson and Joey Gerber, along with lefties Nestor Cortes, Taylor Guilbeau and Anthony Misiewicz in the ‘pen.
Shaw was signed as a free agent on the eve of Opening Day to add an experienced veteran to that group, but the 32-year-old right-hander has allowed 10 earned runs and 10 hits with four walks and one strikeout in 3 1/3 innings over four appearances.
Shaw has been one of MLB’s most durable relievers over the last nine seasons with a Major League-leading 577 appearances. Most of those came during an outstanding run for the Indians before he struggled over the past two seasons with the Rockies.
As a player with five-plus years of MLB service time, he had to agree to accept the Minor League option or else he’d have become a free agent.
“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.”
Marmolejos made his first MLB roster after a strong preseason showing with his left-handed bat, and he was the Opening Day starter in left field. But the 27-year-old has hit just .103 (3-for-29) with one home run and three RBIs in eight games.
“Marmo had a really good camp. We liked how he was swinging the bat, but obviously he’s not getting a ton of playing time here,” Servais said. “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.”
Servais has gone more to Dylan Moore and Dee Gordon in left field, and Daniel Vogelbach can back up Evan White at first base, so Marmolejos started just two of the past six games and had gone 0-for-8 at the plate.
The MLB rules adjustment will now allow teams to bring a five-man taxi squad on the road instead of the previous three players, which will provide additional depth in case of issues while teams are away from home. COVID-19 protocols prohibit players from being flown in separately on commercial flights, so the taxi squad players are the only available replacements on road trips.
“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.”