As the Toronto Blue Jays head towards the trade deadline, one of the areas they would like to address is their need for a power bat, and in particular, a right-handed one that could also play in the outfield if needed. Among the potential targets, St. Louis Cardinals Tyler O’Neill was an ideal candidate for the ballclub for many reasons.
First of all, O’Neill is only two years removed from his stellar 2021 breakout campaign in which he slashed .286/.352/.560 with an OPS+ of 148, 89 runs scored, 26 doubles, two triples, 34 home runs, 80 RBI, and 15 stolen bases, along with nabbing his second Gold Glove in consecutive years. So practically, he can get it done in all aspects of the game.
Secondly, O’Neill was born in Burnaby, Canada, so bringing him back home would definitely make him a fan favourite at the Rogers Centre, along with promoting further excellence in Canadian baseball.
Thirdly, O’Neill has been hampered by some injuries in each of the past couple of years (including this year), in particular in 2022 when he was sidelined over five times with various ailments. So his value at the approaching deadline should be at an all-time low, so the Jays can definitely take advantage of that to get O’Neill at good value for a low-risk, high reward potential type of outcome.
However, as per The Athletic (subscription required), the Cardinals plan to hold on to O’Neill instead at the trade deadline, unless a contending team was willing to buy high on him. The Cardinals have seen his potential impact he could provide the ballclub when healthy, so if he isn’t going to bring back a huge package at the deadline to help out the team’s future, keeping him instead could provide more value to the team heading into 2024, with hopes he could regain his form prior to his injury issues. Nevertheless, they don’t plan to sell low with O’Neill under any circumstances.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, this means they will have to explore other options in the market for their power bat, and if they really want to get O’Neill eventually, they will have to offer up something much more worthwhile. But to gamble high for O’Neill this year with his scary injury history from recent years is probably not the wisest move for the Jays as it stands.