Could Braves look to Red Sox trade candidate for Ronald Acuña Jr. replacement?

Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals
Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals / Scott Kane/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves will play the rest of the 2024 season without the reigning National League MVP and their biggest star.

Ronald Acuña Jr. exited the Braves' May 26 game against the Pirates after his leg gave out on the base paths The injury was non-contact, and Acuña's season was in question from the jump. He was later diagnosed with a torn ACL, the second of his career.

Before the injury, though, Acuña's numbers didn't match up to his MVP stats from the year before. The right fielder was slashing .250/.351/.365 with eight doubles, a triple, four homers and 16 stolen bases, which are still quality stats, but not as much as MLB fans have come to expect from the superstar.

Now, with a vacancy in right field, Atlanta needs to find a solution. The Boston Red Sox could have an answer, but he's dealing with knee issues of his own, at the moment.

Tyler O'Neill could be a good fit for the Braves. He signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox before the start of the season, and if they don't plan to extend him, a trade could be the best move to get something in exchange for his departure. He has time to recover from his injury, and the Braves have time to diagnose whether they have the proper in-house options to replace Acuña.

If healthy, Red Sox outfielder Tyler O'Neill could suit Braves' outfield in Ronald Acuña Jr.'s spot

The outfielder began the 2024 season in potential MVP form. He's mashed a team-leading 11 homers for Boston and he led the league at one point, but the slugger has entered a recent slump. He's slashing .236/.343/.500 with six doubles and 17 RBI in 41 games.

O'Neill was sent back to Boston from the Red Sox's series in Baltimore to undergo imaging on his sore knee. Some of Red Sox Nation has attributed his slump to his ailing knee, or potential lingering concussion symptoms from a prior collision with Rafael Devers in the outfield — the Yankees' Anthony Rizzo experienced long-term concussion symptoms last season and he began to slump offensively after the injury.

His defense has been just below league average for the Sox, but he was getting used to strange new field dimensions at the beginning of the season. O'Neill has been consistent in the field and he's shuffled around Boston's pastures to suit its needs.

If all goes well with O'Neill's imaging and the outfielder is clear, a trade may be in his future if he isn't extended by the Red Sox. Adam Duvall is Atlanta's only backup option for right field and his .213/.304/.416 slash line doesn't suit everyday play as well as O'Neill's does.

Hopefully, O'Neill's knee isn't severely banged up — he still has time to bounce back and ball out for Boston. Then, at this point, it'll be dependent on the Red Sox contending by the deadline to determine his future with the team.

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