Mercado's emergence could pave way for Bobby Bradley

Mercado's play allowed the Indians to DFA Leonys Martin

James Rapien
June 22, 2019 - 2:47 pm

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Indians’ decision to designate Leonys Martin for assignment has led to plenty of speculation about what’s next for the organization.

Most believe Bobby Bradley will be promoted from Triple-A Columbus. The 23-year-old slugger leads the International League with 24 home runs and is second in the league with 55 RBI.

Martin’s release could clear the way for Bradley to join the team later this week, but the move wasn’t made for that reason.

As impressive as Bradley has been for the Clippers, outfielder Oscar Mercado has been even better. He leads the Indians in batting average (.303) and is top five on the team in most of the major hitting categories including on-base percentage (.357) and OPS (.836). When you combine that with his athleticism and natural ability in the outfield, it made the Indians’ decision to move on from Martin even easier.

“Oscar was a big part of the equation,” said Indians President Chris Antonetti. “His continued development and emergence as a really productive major league player for us helped nudge that decision.”

Mercado has settled in nicely in the month of June, posting a .301/.338/.845 slash line with three home runs. He’s more versatile than Martin and can play all three outfield spots, which is another reason why the Indians have been so impressed with him.

The Indians won’t commit to Mercado being the everyday center fielder, but he’s expected to spend most of his time out there.

“I’m not sure it will be every day, but he’ll play regularly,” Antonetti said. “Tito (Terry Francona) does such a good job of utilizing the roster and putting guys in position to succeed and then figuring out when the right time to give them breaks is.”

Mercado isn’t the only reason they made the move. Obviously, Martin’s .199 batting average and .125/.192/.333 slash line in the month of June big reasons why he was designated for assignment.

Martin's roster spot is currently occupied by Aaron Civale, who’s starting for the injured Mike Clevinger on Saturday. Assuming Clevinger only misses one start like the Indians expect, another move could be on its’ way.

"We need to get through today [Saturday] first," Antonetti said. "I expect we'll have other moves. We won't continue to have this many pitchers. As much as Tito (Terry Francona) relievers, at some point we need to re-balance the roster."

It’s hard to imagine Bradley being in Triple-A when they accomplish their goal of re-balancing the roster. He does strikeout a lot and isn’t in the best shape, which is something the Indians are concerned with, but it’s next to impossible to argue with the power numbers he’s posted in Columbus.

“I’ve been asked a lot about Bobby Bradley,” Antonetti said. “It’s exciting to think about Bobby’s future. At some point we expect that he’ll be here to help us.”

Bradley should join the Indians at some point in the near future, but don’t let that take away from what Mercado has done.

He’s exceeded expectations since being promoted. Mercado is a legitimate American League Rookie of the Year candidate. He leads AL rookies in batting average and on-base percentage (minimum 100 at-bats).

Bradley is going to get the attention until he’s promoted and rightfully so, but Mercado’s been great on and off the field and the Indians think he’s just scratching the surface of his potential.

They’ve been blown away by his maturity and willingness to get better. No one in the clubhouse has to wonder if Mercado is going to be ready to play on a daily basis. They know he’s going to do all of the right things.

“Oscar’s credit he’s really been, he’s taken ownership of his own development from the day he got here,” Antonetti said. “He’s always seeking to learn, always seeking to get better. And that mindset’s a really good ingredient to setting a platform to being a really effective major league player.” 

Mercado has a bright future and his ability to play right away could pave the way for Bradley to join him in Cleveland.