With the injury to Bryce Harper looming over the team, they had to make a move to bolster the depth with the team. Today, they made that move.
The Phillies have claimed outfielder Óscar Mercado off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians, President of Baseball Operations David Dombrowski announced today.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) June 27, 2022
Let’s not kid ourselves, there is no move out there that will replace what Harper brings to the team. At least, not without subtracting major pieces of future Phillies teams, that is. If they decided to part with Mick Abel or Andrew Painter or even maybe Bryson Stott, then perhaps a major piece is coming back. Instead, the team is going to have to rely on different ways to improve and this is one of them.
Mercado is a right handed hitting outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. His .202/.227/.377 doesn’t exactly scream “starter” when you look at it and maybe he’s not going to be asked to do that. So we look at him as the strong side of a possible platoon with Mickey Moniak or Odubel Herrera, looking at how he hits left handed pitching.
<peeks at splits> Hmmm, .189/.218/.264 this year against southpaws. Doesn’t look too appealing. Let’s try career numbers!
Ah, much more palatable.
His outfield defense, at least according to OAA, has hovered around 0 (average) for his career, so he would actually be an upgrade over pretty much everyone out there right now, a big deal when one considers we’ve had to watch Nick Castellanos the past few months. Does that mean Mercado is worth starting? Probably not, but since his career numbers against lefties have been pretty decent, there really isn’t much downside to running him out there for a few weeks to see where they are at before making any decisions at the trade deadline.
On the flip side, it might be more preferable to have Matt Vierling make those starts, so maybe that’s the decision the team goes with. Right now, though, that might leave them thin if something were to happen to Vierling during a game. Vierling might also see some time on the infield dirt, what with the current infield struggling to hit with any kind of power (seriously, this might be their weakest infield in 10 years). Couple that with Mercado basically being a free pickup and it really is a no-lose situation for the team.
There are better options than Oscar Mercado to be had. That might require trade negotiations to happen, which would take time, something the Phillies don’t have right now. As a free waiver claim, he’ll have to do for now. Who knows, maybe they catch lightning in a bottle.