3 Cardinals offseason moves that already look bad

Most of the Cardinals' offseason moves have looked quite good in the early going. But here are three we wish we could already take back.
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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Trading Tyler O'Neill

As Cardinals fans, we could've seen this one coming from a mile away. Randy Arozarena and Adolis Garcia were both unproven talents before winning the ALCS MVP award, but Tyler O'Neill had already shown flashes of greatness. His 2021 season will go down as one of the biggest what-ifs in Cardinals history. After struggling at the plate from 2018 to 2020, O'Neill finally broke out, hitting 34 home runs and finishing 8th in NL MVP voting.

Injuries derailed the remainder of his Cardinals career, and after turmoil brewed between O'Neill and the Cardinals clubhouse, particularly manager Oli Marmol, it was time to part ways with the outfielder. With an outfield consisting of Walker, Nootbaar, and Edman with Brendan Donovan, Alec Burleson, and Victor Scott II as depth options, it certainly didn't make sense to hold onto O'Neill and his salary.

However, with Nootbaar and Edman on the IL to start the season, O'Neill sure would have come in handy as another outfield option. Now that it looks like he's finally healthy, he's showing shades of 2021 in Boston. He homered for a record 5th consecutive Opening Day, and he hasn't slowed down. In his first 7 games, Tyler O'Neill has homered 5 times for a league-leading 1.490 OPS and 328 OPS+. He certainly won't be able to keep that pace up, but it looks like MVP candidate O'Neill has returned.

I'm not saying the Cardinals should have kept O'Neill, as it simply wasn't going to work out with all the friction between him and the front office, but the return should definitely have been better. The Cardinals tipped their hand early, as they made it clear there was almost no way O'Neill would remain in St. Louis for 2024, thus tanking his trade value. While Nick Robertson is a promising bullpen arm, he's still in Triple-A to start the season. The other arm, Victor Santos, is a wildcard but could develop into a solid bullpen piece as well.

However, this is not nearly enough return for a middle-of-the-lineup outfielder. Had the Cardinals played their hand better, the return they got in exchange for O'Neill could have been much better. They held onto him for too long, he's breaking out with another team, and all they have to show for it are two middling Minor League relievers.