Oscar Mercado seemed like the obvious man to be the Opening Day center fielder for the Cleveland Indians in 2021.
He is now struggling just to get on base in Triple-A.
Mercado was demoted before the start of the season and the talk was about giving him time to get comfortable on offense once again.
His stats so far are concerning.
#Indians sending CF Oscar Mercado to minors. "Nobody's giving up on him," manager Terry Francona said.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) March 21, 2021
A Brutal Start
Mercado is slashing .164/.243/.224 in the first month of the Triple-A season.
He has hit zero home runs and has four doubles on the year.
Time may be running out for Mercado as he is already 26 years old.
That is a year older than Daniel Johnson, who received a quick promotion earlier this year.
Johnson had a disastrous set of games, but the point remains he was given a shot over Mercado.
Indians fans saw Mercado as a long-term piece back in 2019 when he played in 115 games and finished top-10 in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
2020 was far more brutal as he posted a .348 OPS in 36 games.
One fair argument was to say Mercado was a victim of the bizarre schedule and offseason.
However, the struggles didn’t magically go away as we can see now.
Two Former MLB Outfielders Struggling in Columbus
Bradley Zimmer must also be brought up when discussing Mercado.
Columbus Clippers OF Bradley Zimmer with two more hits tonight vs Toledo extended his hitting streak to 5 straight games.
During streak: 7-18 3R 2(2B) 4RBI 1BB 1SB .389 AVG .421 OBP@Bzimmer5 @CLBClippers #Indians #OurCLE pic.twitter.com/iGCazFQ9nD
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) May 21, 2021
Zimmer is now 28 years old and while he is doing better than Mercado in Triple-A, he is still not dominating.
The high-flying defender has a .718 OPS and only four RBIs on the year.
At this point it would appear he is last on the list of potential promotions behind both Mercado and Johnson.
So what should the Indians do?
A trade may make the most sense, but a team has to actively want Zimmer in a deal for that reality to take place.
Certain teams may sign Zimmer if he was cut, so it is possible no one is willing to part with a prospect just yet.
Cutting Zimmer may ultimately be a goodwill move by the Indians if he has no future in Cleveland.
The team moved on from Tyler Naquin this past offseason and although that now looks like a bad move, Zimmer is a similar player in that others are pushing him out for playing time.
Mercado is one of those players, even if he too will be in Zimmer’s situation soon without better production.
Owen Miller was the latest Clippers player to get the call-up to Cleveland.
Bobby Bradley should be next on the list as well.
Not seeing Mercado before July may have the Indians looking to move on from him.
The same is true with Zimmer.
The Indians can remain in contention and become “sellers” in the sense they don’t trade MLB starters, but rather those stuck in Triple-A.
Mercado remains a bit in between right now, however, the Indians can only be so patient with so much young talent in the organization.
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