ESPN's top 'trade candidate' for Red Sox will actually enrage Boston fans

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox / Jaiden Tripi/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox haven't put together a decent trade deadline performance in years. But some of the moves that Bleacher Report and ESPN have suggested for the Red Sox don't seem like the way to do it.

Both publications have named Tyler O'Neill as a top trade candidate for Boston. The slugger has been the Red Sox's early-season MVP outside of the starting rotation, so the pick may come as a shock for some fans.

O'Neill has recently been placed on the seven-day injured list due to complications from a collision with Rafael Devers in the outfield, so his progress has been temporarily slowed, but the outfielder mashed his way into the forefront of Sox fans' minds. In 15 games with Boston, O'Neill is batting .313/.459/.750 with a 1.209 OPS.

O'Neill even spent some time as MLB's home run leader early in the season. It's pretty safe to say the Red Sox didn't expect him to contribute so much so early — Alex Cora admitted to starting O'Neill on Opening Day just so he would have a shot at MLB history, not because he thought he'd be better in the game. O'Neill ended up proving Cora and many of his doubters wrong by mashing his fifth consecutive Opening Day home run, and six others in his following games.

Red Sox fans balk at idea that they should dish Tyler O'Neill at the trade deadline

O'Neill's presence on the team also addresses two of Boston's greatest issues. He's a quality defender and brings right-handed power to an overwhelmingly left-handed order. The Red Sox likely didn't expect O'Neill to mash like he has early on, but he's been exactly what Boston has needed on both sides of the ball.

Bleacher Report suggested that the Red Sox may pursue a trade for O'Neill due to his complicated injury history. His track record has yet to rear its head in a Boston uniform — the collision with Devers was a freak accident — but until it does, the Sox should hold onto the slugger.

Most of Red Sox Nation would likely rather see a qualifying offer or contract extension offered to O'Neill rather than a trade. This Boston team lacks star power and if O'Neill is making the transition back to his 2021, MVP-caliber form, it would be in the Red Sox's best interest to keep him around.

When the Red Sox acquired O'Neill, it's not like they were expecting him to make the 2024 team a contender. It's likely they had longer-term plans in mind. The only way a trade feels like it makes sense is if the Red Sox receive an offer they can't refuse that will help the 2025 team contend.

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