What would a Red Sox-Tyler O'Neill contract extension look like?

Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox
Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox traded for former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O'Neill without knowing he would be such a force at the plate. His tenure with the Cardinals was limited by injuries, but the slugger looks in better form than ever in a Red Sox uniform.

O'Neill's early-season tear already has some members of Red Sox Nation hoping for an extension for the outfielder. The righty bat has mashed nine home runs this season, which ties his 2023 total, and he's been the most powerful bat in Boston's lineup, by far.

The outfielder is batting .329/.447/.729, and his slugging percentage leads MLB. O'Neill missed five games after he sustained a mild concussion from a collision with Rafael Devers in shallow left field, but he never missed a step after he returned to the lineup — he lifted his squad to a walk-off and series victory against the Cubs, one of the Sox's best opponents of the slate so far.

To extend O'Neill, the Red Sox would have to do some shuffling of its lineup and future plans. Both Jarren Duran and Wilyer Abreu have been paying off for Boston in the outfield — Duran is an electric leadoff hitter and base-thief, Abreu has made multiple outstanding plays in the outfield, and now his bat is catching up.

If the Red Sox keep Trevor Story after his third year on the sidelines, they'll need a place to put Ceddanne Rafaela, whom they recently extended. He'll likely be back in the outfield, and Masataka Yoshida also slots into the pastures, although Alex Cora doesn't seem inclined to use him outside of emergencies.

The Red Sox have few long-term contracts on the books, and the majority of them are for homegrown players, such as Devers, Rafaela and Brayan Bello. Boston has shown no inclination to change the spending plan its been going with in recent years, which has resulted in many short, inexpensive deals for Sox players.

The Red Sox may need to jump through a few hoops to extend Tyler O'Neill

Given the inconsistency of O'Neill's career due to his injury history, if he's extended by the Red Sox, it'll likely be on a short-term deal. The value would depend on his performance this year, as that's how long he's signed. O'Neill is making nearly $6 million in 2024, and if he can maintain his pace at the plate and stay healthy, he'll certainly expect a raise.

Maybe a three-year, $42 million contract? Is that too rich for Boston's blood? At the very least, it gives them flexibility in the long-term and gives O'Neill the amount of money he'll likely be looking for if he continues to rake in his walk year.

With Boston's outfield already packed and more high-quality talent, like Roman Anthony, on the way, an extension for O'Neill may not be easily completed. But if he can continue his offensive tear, it may be worth it.

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