Nationals: Jordy Mercer, from afterthought to active roster
There were several players vying for for specific positions on the infield this spring for the Washington Nationals. Josh Bell and Ryan Zimmerman would pair to hold down first base. Trea Turner was locked into the shortstop position. Second base and third base seemed to be up for grabs.
Carter Kieboom had a leg up on the hot corner entering the spring, though as camp went on Starlin Castro and Josh Harrison emerged as contenders. Castro was penciled in at second base, though if he moved across the diamond, Luis Garcia would find his way into the lineup.
Hernan Perez and Jordy Mercer were in camp as non-roster invitees, hoping to make the team as utilitymen.
Veteran utility infielder, Jordy Mercer, has made the Washington Nationals out of camp and will be on the Opening Day roster.
Jordy Mercer was a stalwart on the infield for the Pittsburgh Pirates, alongside Josh Harrison. After a sub-par season in 2019 with the Detroit Tigers, Mercer spent 2020 between the Tigers and New York Yankees, playing in just nine games, collecting four hits.
At 34 years of age he was destined to become a journeyman infielder, and when he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals on February 5th of this year, we sent out this tweet tongue-in-cheek.
At that point there were a handful of infielders on the roster already in camp, not to mention Perez and fellow invitee Adrian Sanchez. The Mercer addition was viewed strictly as organizational depth. He’d be stashed at Triple-A Rochester and called up only in the case of injury.
First, Carter Kieboom struggled to hit his weight. Next, Starlin Castro strained a hamstring. Luis Garcia was demoted to get regular at-bats in the minors. The dominos fell, opening up some room for Mercer to join to roster.
Mercer hit just .200 in 30 at-bats during spring training (Sanchez hit .231 in fewer ABs). Sanchez has all of 289 defensive innings in the majors under his belt while Mercer has played north of seven thousand. Primarily a shortstop, he can slide over to second base and has played briefly at third base as well. His experience in the field made Mercer the pick to fill in while Castro gets healthy.
At the time he was signed, Jordy Mercer was a depth addition at best. He’ll now be on the Opening Day roster and looked at to contribute as the Nationals make their surge to get back to the postseason.