Cardinals trade Tyler O'Neill for Nick Robertson and Victor Santos
It was an open secret that the Cardinals were looking every which way to deal Tyler O'Neill after a 2023 season that saw him be at odds with Oliver Marmol and once again struggle to stay healthy. After a 2021 season where it appeared that O'Neill was on his way to becoming a superstar, his career has come crashing down, as he has hit only .229 with a .707 OPS since 2022.
The Cardinals had a logjam in the outfield with Jordan Walker, Lars Nootbaar and Tommy Edman all vying for playing time, along with likely fourth outfielder Dylan Carlson. It was logical to cut bait with O'Neill, but the Cardinals had difficulty finding a suitor. Finally, the Boston Red Sox took O'Neill off the Cardinals' hands on Dec. 8, sending pitchers Nick Robertson and Victor Santos to the Cardinals in exchange.
O'Neill is a toolshed of a player, but he might have never been fully healthy since his 2021 explosion. His sprint speed dropped from the 97th percentile in 2022 to the 80th percentile last season, and he has battled shoulder, hamstring and back injuries throughout the past couple of seasons. The Cardinals have understandably decided that it was not worth trying to find the O'Neill of old and flipped him for a couple of lottery tickets.
Robertson and Santos don't seem to have too much upside, but depth is always important. While trading O'Neill after 2021 would have been ideal, even the best teams don't have psychics in their front office. With O'Neill's value having taken a drastic nosedive over the past two years and the team no longer having room for him on the roster, the Cardinals took what they could get. More important is the fact they cleared space in the outfield and removed a potential source of clubhouse issues. It's a classic case of addition by subtraction.