After Boston’s arch nemesis, the New York Yankees, went out and acquired superstar Juan Soto in a blockbuster trade, the Red Sox knew they had to make another move of their own during the MLB offseason. So, the Red Sox acquired outfielder Tyler O’Neill from the St. Louis Cardinals, sending Nick Robertson and Victor Santos in return. It’s been no secret that the Cardinals wanted to move O’Neill and they finally found a suitor in Boston, who had a spot open up in its outfield after they traded Alex Verdugo to the Yankees during the MLB Winter Meetings. While we wait for confirmation on where Shohei Ohtani is going to sign in free agency, let’s break down this move, and what it means for O’Neill in the 2024 fantasy baseball season.


Back in 2021, in his age 26 season, O’Neill looked like a fantasy superstar in the making, and a force in the middle of the St. Louis lineup for years to come. That year, in 138 games he slashed .286/.352/.560 with 34 home runs, 89 runs scored, 80 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. His batted ball metrics were off the charts, and despite a strikeout rate north of 31 percent, it’s easy to overlook that when a 17.9 percent barrel rate and 52.2 percent hard hit rate smacked you in the face! However, since that career season, he’s played in just 168 games over the last two seasons. 

Since the beginning of the 2022 season, he’s been on the injured list for the following issues: Right shoulder impingement, left hamstring strain (x2), lower back strain, and a right foot sprain. Health has been an issue for O’Neill, to say the least, and even if the overall numbers haven’t been as great as they were in that 2021 season, he continues to make a ton of hard contact.

With the Red Sox trading Verdugo, O’Neill becomes the logical Opening Day option in left field for Boston, and with no major split disadvantages for O’Neill, health willing, could see everyday at-bats in a park that ranks out as one of the best for right-handed hitters. While the Boston offense may not have the star power that St. Louis had, he’s a near lock for everyday at-bats to begin the year, and the likes of Triston Casas, Rafael Devers, Trevor Story, and Masataka Yoshida are going to be in that lineup with him.

Boston isn’t lacking for outfielders, so O’Neill will need to produce to continue seeing everyday at-bats in this lineup, but his defensive prowess should help lengthen his leash out there. O’Neill is an interesting flier in the outfield for a few reasons:

  1. Massive park upgrade
  2. Clearer path to regular ABs
  3. Only two years removed from a massive fantasy campaign
  4. Contract year narrative
  5. Current ADP is outside the top 275 overall

He’s more attractive in OBP formats, as he’s posted at least a nine percent walk rate or higher in three of the last four seasons, whereas his propensity to swing-and-miss suppress his batting average a bit (career .248 hitter). The injury risk is considerable with O’Neill, and keep in mind he’s played in more than 100 games just once (2021) in his career.