Merced broke in with the Bucs as a switch-hitter, but decided to commit to just the left side in 1993 in the hope of playing every day. That season he batted .313 with a .414 OBP. Merced’s knack for getting key hits off the bench kept him in the bigs, and spent the best part of his career with the Pirates from 1990-96. Never much of a home-run threat, his discipline and concentration at the plate made him a tough out.
Merced left Pittsburgh to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997, but a shoulder injury ended his season 98 games into the campaign. He never recovered either offensively or defensively. In 1998-99 four teams traded for him, hoping he would regain his old form, but one-by-one their hopes were dashed as he struggled to a .268 average and played sloppy defense.
By 2000, the 33-year-old Merced had lost so much bat speed that he found himself playing in Japan, where he only managed to hit .225. In 2001 he signed a minor-league contract with the Houston Astros and made the team out of spring training as a left-handed pinch-hitter.