Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill is working closely with the club’s training staff this offseason.
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill was expected by many to carry his momentum from 2021 into the 2022 season, but injuries and slumps led to a very disappointing season. Now, O’Neill is spending time with the club’s training staff and working toward making changes to his body and preparation for 2023.
Per Katie Woo in her mailbag on The Athletic (subscription required), she referenced this quote from President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak during his end-of-year press conference.
"“Tyler has a chance to be an exciting player, right? We saw glimpses of that. But obviously, 2022 was not the year that he wanted or that we wanted for him. Adjustments have to happen. … Something has to change and he has to do something different.”"
O’Neill, the Cardinals front office, and fans alike grew frustrated with the lack of consistency from the 27-year old last year, but like Mozeliak said, O’Neill has too much potential to give up on right now. In 2021, O’Neill finished 8th in MVP voting with a .912 OPS, which, for context, is better than Arenado’s was in 2022, who is about to finish top 3 in MVP voting. Pair his ability to mash with Gold Glove level defense, and O’Neill can be that third bat St. Louis needs.
In order to do that though, O’Neill is spending his offseason in St. Louis, working on training differently to avoid some of the nagging injuries he has had in recent years. O’Neill appears to be taking the criticism about having “too big” of a body to heart. Along with that, it is likely the club has him steal less bases and even spend more time at DH to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Some are calling for O’Neill to be traded this offseason, and I think that is way too risky. O’Neill profiles as, and has shown, the ability to be the elite bat that he was in 2021, and he is worth more to the Cardinals than he will any other team. If the Cardinals follow through and add more bats this offseason, that will take the pressure off of O’Neill to be that bat, and may allow him to find his grove once again.