Four-plus years after the St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Óscar Mercado, their former second-round draft pick, to Cleveland, they've brought him back as a minor league free agent.
In between, Mercado bounced around the Cleveland and Philadelphia organizations and played in 278 major league games (277 of them with the Indians/Guardians).
Mercado, 27, is one of five minor league free agents signed by the Cardinals, the team announced Friday. The others are infielder Taylor Motter, shortstop Juniel Querecuto, left-hander Kenny Hernandez and right-hander Logan Sawyer.
Mercado was in the midst of his first season at the Triple-A level -- he was batting .285 with eight home runs, 42 RBIs and 31 stolen bases in 100 games -- when the Cardinals traded him for minor league outfielders Conner Capel and Jhon Torres in July 2018. The 2013 draft pick then batted .235 with 26 homers, 95 RBIs and 27 stolen bases when he was in the majors over parts of the next four seasons. His 2019 season was his best; he established MLB career highs with a .269 average, 15 homers, 54 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 115 games as a rookie.
Motter is the only other signee announced Friday with major league experience that can't be counted on one hand. The 33-year-old compiled a .191 average with 10 homers and 38 RBIs in 159 career games while playing all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots with Tampa Bay, Seattle, Minnesota, Colorado, Boston and Cincinnati. He spent last season in Triple-A.
Querecuto, 30, appeared in four games with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016. He has played in 1,037 minor league games for the Rays, Giants, Diamondbacks and Reds organizations.
Sawyer has spent most of the last few years pitching in the Independent Leagues and Australia. The 29-year-old last pitched with a major league affiliate in 2016 (High-A, Rockies organization).
Hernandez, 24, has played six minor league seasons, advancing as high as Double-A.