The Cardinals announced Wednesday that outfielder Oscar Mercado, who was designated for assignment last week, has cleared outright waivers and elected free agency rather than accept a minor league assignment. He’s now free to sign with any club.
Mercado, 28, appeared in 20 games with the Cards this year and tallied 32 plate appearances, batting .290/.313/.387 in that brief look. He’s shown a similar contact-oriented, low-power approach in 145 Triple-A plate appearances this season, batting .278/.361/.421 with two homers, a dozen doubles and a 15-for-18 showing in stolen bases.
Mercado had a nice rookie season in Cleveland back in 2019, batting .269/.318/.443 with 15 homers, 25 doubles, a trio of triples and 15 steals in 115 games and 482 plate appearances. His production dissipated in 2020, however, and he’s never rediscovered his stroke. In 491 big league plate appearances since his rookie season, Mercado is a .206/.262/.334 hitter.
Though he hasn’t had much success since ’19, Mercado is a 28-year-old with a lower-than-average strikeout rate and ample experience at all three outfield positions. He’s also generally been good for average or better overall production in Triple-A, hitting .271/.354/.415 there in parts of five seasons. A club looking for some versatile outfield depth and/or a right-handed bat with a decent track record against left-handed pitching could give Mercado a look on a minor league pact.