6 Cardinals players who made the Opening Day roster but won't finish on it
By Eric Treuden
Outfielder Tyler O'Neill
Oh boy, this is a spicy one. Tyler O'Neill is one of the better performers in this Cardinals lineup and has become a beloved figure amongst the fans of the team.
However, with all of the recent drama surrounding O'Neill and Cardinals manager Oli Marmol, it's worth wondering if the team may be best off trading the slugging outfielder with other options on the roster. Everyone has their own opinions about who is wrong and who is right in this whole incident, but the fact of the matter is, the damage may already be done.
Should the Cardinals elect to move on, the player they're losing is a legitimate star-caliber talent. While durability has been questionable for O'Neill over the years (he has played over 100 games exactly one time in six years), he capitalizes on his playing time in a big way. In 2021, his only full season, he hit 34 home runs with 80 RBI and a 148 OPS+, good enough to finish eighth in the NL MVP race.
Putting the butting of heads that are currently happening aside, O'Neill could've already been the Cardinals' top trade candidate amongst their outfielders. Jordan Walker is certainly going to be locked into right field for the foreseeable future, Lars Nootbaar is well on his way to an everyday starting role in either center or left, and the team still has hope that Dylan Carlson starts to produce. If nothing else, Alec Burleson (who is off to a hot start with the bat), can play left field moving forward as well.
The point is, there are a ton of outfield-capable players on this roster. If O'Neill and his injury proneness continue to be an issue in the clubhouse, the Cardinals may have to make a difficult move to maximize his value while it's high.