The Padres have signed outfielder Óscar Mercado and catcher Kevin Plawecki to minor league contracts with invitations to big league Spring Training, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. According to the MLB.com transaction tracker, San Diego also has minor league agreements with outfielder Bryce Johnson and left-hander Daniel Camarena.
Mercado returns to the Padres after logging some Triple-A time there a season ago. The 29-year-old had an excellent 30-game run with their top farm team in El Paso, hitting .339/.399/.669 with 10 homers and steals apiece. San Diego declined to give him a major league look and he finished the year on a minor league pact with the Dodgers.
Before his stint with the Padres, the Colombian-born outfielder had gotten into 20 MLB games for the Cardinals last year. He has reached the majors in five straight seasons, operating in a depth capacity for most of the time since a solid debut campaign in Cleveland. He’s a .237/.289/.388 hitter in a little under 1000 MLB plate appearances, but he’s a plus runner who can handle all three outfield positions.
Plawecki, 33 in February, spent all of last season in Triple-A. As with Mercado, he briefly joined the San Diego organization midseason. The right-handed hitter combined for a .272/.349/.389 showing in 269 plate appearances with the affiliates for the Nationals, Padres and Rangers. San Diego dealt him to Texas for cash around the deadline.
Last year was the first time since 2014 that Plawecki didn’t see any big league work. He’s a .235/.313/.341 hitter over 449 career games. He’ll add non-roster depth behind the MLB catching duo of Luis Campusano and Kyle Higashioka, although Brett Sullivan has a 40-man roster spot and is above him on the depth chart.
Johnson is a former sixth-round draftee who had spent his entire career with the Giants. The Sam Houston State product reached the majors briefly in each of the last two years, hitting .148/.209/.213 in 67 trips to the plate. As one would expect, Johnson has had more success in Triple-A. He’s a .286/.373/.429 batter over parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level. The 28-year-old has experience at each outfield spot.
Camarena’s lone big league experience consists of six appearances for the Friars in 2021. He’s most well-known for connecting on a stunning grand slam off Max Scherzer. The 31-year-old southpaw has spent a good chunk of time in the San Diego farm system. He pitched for Double-A San Antonio a year ago, posting a 6.20 ERA through 69 2/3 innings.