The Mariners cleared space on their 40-man roster today by outrighting Joe Wieland's contract to Triple-A Tacoma; he has already passed through waivers. If the last two clauses are confusing, don't worry, only the first part is important. The Mariners now have 39 players on the roster, which gives them the flexibility to add anyone in the minor league system to the 40-man. There was no corresponding move, and I don't anticipate one happening in the next day or two.
Wieland was Tacoma's opening day starter, but aside from a good outing on the 13th against El Paso, he's been clobbered. So far, he has allowed 36 hits and eight walks in 13 innings across five starts, and he hasn't escaped the second inning in any of his last three outings. He's still in Tacoma's rotation, but his fastball is sitting in the high-80's and none of his breaking pitches are missing bats: suffice to say, he looks a long way from contributing at the big league level.
Why was Wieland optioned today if there was no corresponding roster move? It's anyone's guess, but if you wanted to speculate optimistically, you could make a case that the M's wanted to keep Wieland around in case his stuff ticks up without losing him (or anyone else) from the 40-man. By exposing him to waivers now, the Mariners gambled that other teams wouldn't be interested in a pitcher who is clearly working without his best stuff. This way, he stays in the organization, and if he improves, he could again be in line for a call up later this summer. That's not a likely outcome at this point, but this is still a savvy bit of play from Jerry Dipoto and co.