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Red Sox trading for two-time Gold Glove outfielder Tyler O'Neill

Gabrielle Starr, Boston Herald on

Published in Baseball

BOSTON — Two days after trading away an outfielder, the Red Sox are acquiring a new one.

On Friday night, the club announced that they acquired outfielder Tyler O’Neill from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for right-hander Nick Robertson and minor league righty Victor Santos.

O’Neill, 28, has spent his entire major league career with the Cardinals. He’s a career .248 average, .776 OPS hitter who walks at an above-average clip most seasons, but aside from his 34-homer performance in 2021, hasn't hit for too much power. He has, however, homered on each of the last four opening days.

Though not typically an everyday player — he’s played 72 games or fewer in four of his six big league seasons — the addition of O’Neill improves Boston’s defense. He won back-to-back Gold Glove and Fielding Bible awards in the ’20 and ’21 seasons, and finished eighth in National League MVP voting in the latter. He’s a career plus-12 Outs Above Average defender with above average arm strength (89th MLB percentile) and sprint speed (80th).

 

O’Neill is an affordable, albeit injury-prone addition to the roster. He made $4.95 million last season and is projected to receive a minimal raise, $5.5M, in his final year of arbitration. With free agency looming after the upcoming season, there’s significant incentive to bounce back this season after a down year. Over just 50 games, he hit .173 with a .621 OPS, all career lows. After compiling a 48.2% hard-hit rate through his first four seasons, he’s down to 4.35% over the last two.

Robertson, acquired from the Dodgers this summer in the Kiké Hernández trade, made 18 appearances (nine apiece) between Los Angeles and Boston. Santos came to the organization by way of the Phillies, who sent him to Boston as the player to be named later in the CJ Chatham trade. He was promoted to Triple-A in ’22, but missed the ’23 season due to injury.


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