The St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly in talks on a contract extension with Tyler O’Neill to avoid arbitration for 2022 and beyond.
The St. Louis Cardinals have already extended Harrison Bader on a two-year, $10.4 million contract to avoid arbitration. The only player who has yet to avoid arbitration is Tyler O’Neill, with O’Neill filing at $4.15 million and the team countering at $3.4 million.
He immediately expressed surprise after not reaching a deal, saying that “I thought there was going to be a little more urgency” before adding that he would love to discuss a long-term extension to stay with the Cardinals.
Now, O’Neill and the Cardinals are discussing a multi-year contract to avoid arbitration, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. There has been progress in talks and no deal is done, a source confirmed, with O’Neill telling Goold that he is OK if talks extend into the regular season. There has been no arbitration hearing date scheduled, perhaps a sign that both sides are optimistic that an agreement can be reached soon.
Getting O’Neill signed for multiple seasons and avoiding the risk of taking him to a hearing is the best-case scenario for both sides. The Cardinals’ relationship with Jack Flaherty was impacted after they took him to an arbitration hearing last season – a case that Flaherty won – and the team cannot afford to risk the same thing with O’Neill.
He has established himself as a cornerstone player and at only 26 years old, will be the face of the franchise for years to come if he continues at this trajectory. Last season, he hit .286/.352/.560 with 34 home runs and 80 RBI and won his second Gold Glove, giving the Cardinals arguably the best trio of hitters (O’Neill, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt) in baseball.
Based on the wording of Goold’s report, I would expect a deal to get done soon. While there is nothing done, there is clearly interest in getting a multi-year deal done – and that’s the best of both worlds for the team and player. And avoids potentially upsetting a player that the Cardinals believe will warrant MVP consideration in the 2022 season.