Jordy Mercer thrilled to still be with Pirates after trade deadline
At season’s start, Jordy Mercer wasn’t sure whether he would still be playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates on the first day of August.
In years past for a Pirates player with an expiring contract, the day after the nonwaiver trade deadline oftentimes involved going to a new team.
But Mercer was still in the starting lineup at shortstop, batting eighth and wearing his No. 10 in home whites when the Pirates played the first-place Chicago Cubs Wednesday night at PNC Park.
The Pirates were willing to part with a pair of major leaguers in outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow and a player to be named later in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for pitcher Chris Archer, and sent minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later for Texas Rangers closer Keone Kela.
But Mercer, to even his own surprise, stayed put.
“It’s always in the back of my mind, knowing that I’ve seen guys come and go, but just the fact that we were playing well and we got things rolling, that just helped solidify our confidence in ourselves,” Mercer said. “If you’ve been around here long enough, you kind of know there’s a chance you can be moved. You can’t control that, though. It’s just about doing your job.”
Mercer, a seventh-year veteran, is five games shy of his fourth consecutive season with 100 starts and one game shy of his 800th career game. He batted .292 (21 for 72) in July, including a stretch at .378 (17 for 45) while hitting safely in 13 of his past 14 games.
The Pirates showed faith in their double-play combination by not only keeping the 31-year-old Mercer but also second baseman Josh Harrison, who publicly requested a trade in January even though Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer are waiting in the wings at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Winning 15 of 19 games, including 11 consecutive, put the Pirates in position to keep their veterans and add for a playoff push.
“To me, that’s where it starts. You’ve got to be strong up the middle,” said Mercer, a member of the wild-card teams from 2013-15. “You look at every team that’s good or every team that’s got a plan, that’s where it starts: catcher, second, short and centerfielder. If you don’t have those guys that are solid guys that have been around and are experienced and know what they’re doing, your team’s going to struggle.
“You need that experience. You need that leadership. You need that solid play to show up every day. We’ve had that up the middle. We’ve had that for the last few years. It seems like the front office wanted to keep us together, to keep us going because we’re playing well so we can keep momentum on our side.”
Mercer was hopeful the more games the Pirates won, the better the chances for he and Harrison to stay together in the middle of the infield. They came up through the minors together in Double-A and Triple-A, so they are hoping to keep turning double plays for the Pirates.
“We’re excited. There isn’t any other way to put it,” Mercer said. “The guys above us believe in us. They know we’re playing well - not just this year but if you look at the way that Neal constructed it, they’ve got a chance to be pretty good for years to come and I hope I’m part of it.”
A third-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2008, Mercer hasn’t worn the uniform of any other MLB organization. And he wants to keep it that way for as long as possible, as he said he’s open to signing a contract extension to remain with the Pirates beyond the 2018 season.
“Heck yeah, I’d love to stay here,” Mercer said. “I don’t want to go anywhere. This is all we know. This is all my family knows. This is all I’ve ever known. I was drafted here, so I’d love to stay here.”