Indians Send Oscar Mercado to Minors after Exhibition Struggles

Cleveland Indians left fielder Oscar Mercado in 2019
Cleveland Indians' left fielder Oscar Mercado in 2019. Photo by Albert Pena/CSM/Shutterstock (10318470a)

When the Cleveland Indians entered the spring training, Oscar Mercado was the overwhelming favorite to be the Opening Day starter in the center field. Weeks later, however, Mercado played himself out from the team’s roster entirely.

The Indians’ manager Terry Francona told reporters on Sunday that Mercado will be sent to minors and play for Triple-A Columbus for the time being.

“He needs some time and, when I say space I mean not major league games hanging over his head, to get him back to where he can help us,” said Francona. “We’ve seen it. He’s seen it. He’s felt it.”

Mercado struggled to make an impact in exhibition games this year, managing only .214 with one RBI in 10 games. This came after a disastrous 2020 campaign, in which the 26-year-old Mercado ended with a .128 batting average, six RBIs, and only one home run.

While Mercado missed an opportunity to establish himself as part of Indians’ long-term future, Francona insists that the organization still values him.

“Nobody’s giving up on him, and we wanted to make sure he understood that,” he added.

The Indians acquired Oscar Mercado in a trade with St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 and gave him his majors debut early in the 2019 MLB season. Mercado ended up having a stellar campaign as a rookie, finishing the year with a .269 batting average, 15 homers, and 54 RBIs.