Cardinals GM gives Red Sox fans reason to be excited about Tyler O’Neill

O'Neill has been delivering in his spring training appearances, too.

Sep 2, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Tyler O'Neill (27) hits a
Sep 2, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Tyler O'Neill (27) hits a / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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The Boston Red Sox acquired Tyler O'Neill to fill the slot in the outfield that Red Sox Nation has become used to Alex Verdugo occupying.

But after O'Neill's 2023 performance, many fans have reservations about his capabilities at the plate and as a player in general. O'Neill's former general manager, John Mozeliak, made an effort to put some of those concerns to rest.

“He’s uber-talented,” Mozeliak said. “He’s a guy that, when you think back just a couple of years, he was getting upper ballot MVP votes. Two things: He’s got to be able to stay healthy and he’s got to perform. But I do think he’s an amazing talent.”

O'Neill has dominated in MLB before, but he had a down year in 2023 with the rest of the Cardinals squad. He's a two-time Gold Glove winner and he placed eighth in MVP voting in 2021. That year, he hit 34 home runs with 80 RBI and 15 stolen bags. Baseball Savant ranked him in the 86th percentile in outs above average, 90th in arm strength, and 98th in sprint speed, too.

The Red Sox could get a much-needed spark out of Tyler O'Neill

O'Neill is already showcasing his skills on both sides of the ball during Boston's spring training games. Against the Phillies, he went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored and he's been playing quality defense in JetBlue Park's Fenway-lookalike outfield.

He's also been avoiding striking out which is a definite sticking point for O'Neill. He hasn't struck out once during his five spring training plate appearances so far after racking up 67 strikeouts in 72 games last season.

Manager Alex Cora has praised O'Neill for his heads-up defense. He's stationed O'Neill in left field for now to get a hang of fielding off the Monster, but it's uncertain where he'll play most often in the regular season. His position could change depending on who makes the Opening Day roster, especially if Ceddanne Rafaela makes the squad, whom Cora has already said could start in center field for the team.

If O'Neill gets back to his 2021 form, he could offer Boston the right-handed power the roster was seeking this offseason. With a 30-plus home run season under his belt, O'Neill could be a spark plug if he finds his way with the Sox. He's seemingly already started.

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