Oscar Mercado informed by Cleveland Indians he will not make 2021 Opening Day roster


The center field job in Cleveland remains open.

Cleveland sent Oscar Mercado to the team’s deep repository on Sunday, according to manager Terry Francona, throwing an already uncertain position into murky waters.

Upon entering spring camp, it seemed like Mercado could be the favorite if he could regain his 2019 form as he posted an OPS of 0.761, completed 15 home runs and stole 15 bases as a rookie. However, his 2020 season was a downright disaster (.348 OPS) and he was visibly getting frustrated in a one year nightmare. Cleveland hoped so Swing adjustments and mental overhaul Mercado went through the winter and could pay off, but he also fought this spring (6:28, two doubles, seven eliminations).

“We spoke to Oscar for a long time,” said Francona on a Zoom call. “We didn’t want him to feel like he was on an island. And I think he mentally beat himself up. And I think he kind of went along with that too, and that’s part of it. Now it’s easier said the best The way I can deal with things mentally is to be so physically present and consider that there is something you can fall back on because it helps you mentally. “

“We also said, ‘Take today and take a deep breath.’ Because we have a lot to talk to him about, but we want it to be in a place where things are going in the right direction. And at the end of our meeting I was very satisfied. I said, “Oscar, this can be an opportunity for you, if you see it that way. ‘And he said he did. “

Cleveland remains optimistic that Mercado may one day rediscover the swing that led to a strong rookie season. But it didn’t come together in time to stay in the race for the center field job.

“He needs some time and when I say space I don’t mean major league games hanging over his head to get him back where he can help us,” said Francona. “We saw it. He saw it. He felt it. Nobody gives up on him and we wanted to make sure he understood that.”

Mercado will open the season in the small leagues and try to get its momentum back on track. The team also recently selected outfielder Daniel Johnson for Triple-A, who will work on all three outfields. Both of these could potentially be options later in the season.

As for the opening day, Mercado’s departure from the race is narrowing the field, although the midfield situation in Cleveland remains uncertain. Three leading competitors remain in the running to determine how Cleveland will split the playing time in midfield.

Bradley Zimmer, who was limited to just 63 major league games due to injuries since the end of the 2017 season, is now healthy and a leading option, along with Ben Gamel, a veteran with more track record of one who is forcing a 40-man roster change would. Cleveland also had shortstop Amed Rosario who took fly balls in midfield to see if he could be an option there. However, his debut in the Cactus League in midfield did not go exactly according to plan.

Zimmer (mean 304, 0.799 OPS in 23 bats) and Gamel (mean 0.269, 0.849 OPS in 26 bats) both had high quality feathers. Since both are left-handed, only one could do the opening roster.

As a right-handed player, Rosario could potentially form a platoon with Zimmer or Gamel, with Andres Gimenez probably the most popular shortstop. Rosario has hit .333 in 21 bats this spring, but it remains to be seen how well he can handle the position defensively when Cleveland opens the season in Detroit on April 1.

Trevor Stephan makes the roster

Another piece of Cleveland’s inaugural bullpen is known: Trevor Stephan will break camp with the team.

Stephan was Cleveland’s Rule 5 election over the winter, which means he must either remain on the active 26-man roster for the duration of the season or be placed on total waivers and offered to his former team, the New York Yankees.

Stephan has never signed up for Triple-A before last season of minor league baseball closed other than alternate locations for all 30 clubs, but he impressed this spring (10 strikeouts, two runs earned in 7 1/3 innings).

“This boy came in and we told him, we said, ‘We rule you because we like your arm,'” said Francona. “We kept him at our ball club because we think he’s balanced. We saw him fight back from a tough outing against the Dodgers. There’s a lot to like about this kid. He was good. He says : ‘I know this is just the beginning. I know I have a lot to prove.’ It was just funny news. “

James Karinchak, Emmanuel Clase, Nick Wittgren, Phil Maton and now Stephan have locked five of the likely eight places in the bullpen. Adam Plutko could be a front runner to serve as another multi-inning option as he ran out of options. Kyle Nelson and non-cadres invite Bryan Shaw, Blake Parker and Oliver Perez to join all also vie for spots in the bullpen.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at [email protected]. Read more about the Indians at www.beaconjournal.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.