Chicago White Sox slugger Yermin Mercedes appeared to announce his retirement Wednesday night, writing "it's over" in an Instagram post while removing all photos and tags connected to the MLB club from his profile.
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
In an Instagram post, Yermin Mercedes, an April sensation with the Chicago White Sox, says he's stepping "away from baseball for a while ... it's over." <br><br>Mercedes was sent to AAA earlier this month and had been playing well, hitting .309/.377/.655. <a href="https://t.co/11P6EgpiKn">pic.twitter.com/11P6EgpiKn</a>
Mercedes, 28, was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on July 2 after struggling to rediscover the power that made him an instant fan favorite with the White Sox. The American League Rookie of the Month in April began the year slashing .415/.455/.659 with five home runs through 22 games, including eight straight hits to begin the season—the first player in MLB history to do so.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa told reporters after Wednesday's 7-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins he still believes Mercedes has a future in the majors and plans to reach out.
The journeyman minor league catcher spent nine years trying to make it to the majors. He finally got an opportunity with the White Sox in 2020, but he did not take an at-bat in his lone appearance. Instead, he had to wait for 2021 when a barrage of injuries led the Sox to start the season with Mercedes on the bench. He quickly became an early-season sensation before he began to struggle at the plate in May and June.
If his career is over, he ends this season with a .271 batting average and .732 OPS along with seven home runs and 37 RBI.
The White Sox have not been formally notified of Mercedes' decision. He was in the lineup for the Charlotte Knights on Wednesday, apparently posting on Instagram shortly after he was pinch-hit for in the sixth inning.
At the time of his demotion, Mercedes had slashed .159/.221/.190 over his last 18 games. His last home run came on May 27. Ten days earlier, on May 17, Mercedes launched a 45 mile-per-hour heave from Twins utility-man Willians Astudillo on a 3-0 count in the ninth inning of a 15-4 game. The homer immediately drew the ire of Tony La Russa, who excoriated Mercedes in his postgame comments for ignoring the coach's sign to take the pitch.
Mercedes' slump may have already begun at that point, but the public comments from La Russa hung around him for the next few weeks until his time in the bigs came to an end.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters he expected Mercedes would be back in Chicago at some point this season and wanted him to regain some confidence against less-refined pitchers. That seemed to work with Mercedes batting .309 with four home runs in 14 minor league games. Yet his road back to the big leagues only got more complicated since his demotion.
Not only are the White Sox expecting both Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert to return from the 60-day Injured List by next month, call-ups Jake Burger and Gavin Sheets have played themselves into the lineup on a near daily basis.
Between those four, the trade deadline and Mercedes' struggles since April, even a strong showing in Triple-A was going to require a bit of luck before he suited up on the South Side again.