Mercado was assigned to minor-league camp Sunday, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports. Mercado showed plenty of promise as a rookie in 2019, homering 15 times and stealing 15 bases in 115 games while producing a respectable 96 wRC+. He didn't come close to repeating that in his second season last year, hitting a miserable .128/.174/.174 in 36 contests. His .527 OPS this spring clearly didn't convince Cleveland that his struggles were over. Mercado could still turn things around and feature at some point in the future, but his expected spot in center field will likely be manned by some combination of Bradley Zimmer and Amed Rosario for now.
Mercado is competing with Bradley Zimmer for Cleveland's starting center field job, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports. Zimmer has the statistical edge early in camp (he's hitting .500 to Mercado's .250), but Mercado has had 16 at-bats while Zimmer has had 10, so it appears to be his job to lose. Both players have a minor-league option remaining, so the club could conceivably play the hot hand all year.
Mercado went 1-for-3 with a solo home run during Wednesday's loss to the Cubs. Mercado tied things up 2-2 with a solo blast off Jon Lester in the fifth inning. Unfortunately, the Indians came up short in extra innings. It was the first home run of the season for the 25-year-old, who's batting a dismal .152/.208/.212 across 28 games.
Mercado was recalled by Cleveland on Monday, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports. Mercado played his way off the roster early this season, hitting a miserable .111/.167/.111 in 17 games. He's likely ticketed for a bench role upon his return, and he may not even last on the roster for very long, as he could make way for newly-acquired outfielder Josh Naylor once the deadline-day acquisition is ready to join the team.
Mercado was optioned to Cleveland's alternate training site Monday. Mercado generated a fair amount of hype during draft season after hitting 15 homers and stealing 15 bases in 115 games as a rookie last season, though he was always going to need to perform to maintain consistent playing time in a crowded Cleveland outfield. He's done the opposite of perform, however, hitting .111/.167/.111 in 48 plate appearances, causing his playing time to dwindle and now evaporate completely. He could still play a role later this season if he sorts things out at the team's secondary training site, but it's hard to be too confident in him at this point.