Grading the Cardinals' trade return for Tyler O'Neill

The St. Louis Cardinals acquired two pitchers from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for outfield slugger Tyler O'Neill.

Tyler O'Neill, St. Louis Cardinals
Tyler O'Neill, St. Louis Cardinals / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals saw the Shohei Ohtani chaos online and dropped a bomb, trading outfielder Tyler O'Neill to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for two pitchers — RHP Nick Robertson and RHP Victor Santos.

Robertson is expected to join the Cards' major league staff as a reliever. Santos will play in the minors with Triple-A Memphis.

For the Red Sox, this is a very clear follow-up to the blockbuster trade that sent Alex Verdugo to the New York Yankees. O'Neill provides a legitimate source of power in the outfield and he's a two-time Gold Glove winner, for good measure. He's blessed with a canon-arm and a glove that can fill in for the departed Verdugo.

cardinals red sox

Grading the Cardinals' trade sending Tyler O'Neill to the Red Sox

O'Neill only managed 266 plate appearances in 72 games last season because of injury, his second straight year below 100 games played. That said, O'Neill was rather spectacular in his last healthy campaign, slashing .286/352/.560 with 34 home runs and 80 RBIs in 2021. That earned him the eighth-place finish in National League MVP voting.

When he's healthy and fully in tune, O'Neill is a legitimate two-way star. He has the power to generate explosive offense — his expected slugging percentage of .582 that season landed in the MLB's 97th percentile, per Baseball Savant.

That, plus Gold Glove defense, could be quite valuable for the Red Sox. There's obvious concern about O'Neill plateauing in the aftermath of multiple injury-plagued seasons, but he's 28. There's time for him to re-locate his prior form. The Red Sox, who gave up a potent bat in the Verdugo trade, are betting on O'Neill providing suitable value on a discount. Boston didn't exactly splurge in the trade.

For St. Louis, John Mozeliak's focus has been on bolstering the bullpen. He has talked at length about adding relievers. Robertson appeared in 18 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Red Sox last season, going 0-1 with a 6.04 ERA and 1.746 WHIP in 22.1 innings pitched. The 25-year-old registered 26 strikeouts and nine walks.

St. Louis gets a young talent under team control, addressing a team need. O'Neill has the potential to explode for Boston, but his contract expires after the season and there is considerable downside, too. Either way, his future was clearly not in St. Louis.

All in all, this feels like a fair trade both ways. Boston addresses their outfield void with a potentially explosive offensive player. The Cards cash in on O'Neill and his expiring contract, adding a couple pitchers with room to grow into consistent roles.

Cardinals grade: B

Red Sox grade: B+