The Mariners Monday made three significant roster moves, sending LHP James Paxton, INF Chris Taylor and OF Stefen Romero to AAA Tacoma. The move of Paxton to the Rainiers means that right-hander Nathan Karns will serve as the fifth starter when the regular season begins Monday.
Paxton’s demotion comes one day after the Chicago Cubs raked him for seven runs in four innings during a 12-9 Seattle victory. In five Cactus League starts spanning 15 innings, he allowed 25 hits. He also walked eight while fanning six.
Paxton made 13 starts last year, going 3-4, 4.29.
“It was based on where James is at. It’s about getting the player in the right spot when the season starts,’’ manager Scott Servais told reporters Monday. “Thought it was in his best interest and ours. Let’s go and let’s move ahead on this thing.
“We all know James Paxton is going to be a big part of our team at some point this season. He has a track record of having very good outings at the big league level and we are going to need him, so let’s get him going and get him in a good spot mentally.”
Karns hasn’t exactly dazzled, either. Entering Monday’s game against Kansas City, in which he is scheduled to start, Karns has allowed 15 runs (12 earned) on 21 hits. He’s pitched 16 innings spanning six starts.
Romero’s demotion essentially means that Dae-Ho Lee will become the club’s right-handed hitter at first base, opposite Adam Lind, a lefty. The Mariners signaled that move Sunday when they added Lee to the 40-man roster.
Taylor’s move to the Rainiers, which follows Shawn O’Malley’s Sunday, opens the way for Luis Sardinas to start the year as the club’s utility infielder.
The moves leave the Mariners with 33 players in the major league camp. That includes 28 roster players, five non-roster invitees and two players on the 60-day disabled list.