1. Cardinals OF Tyler O’Neill
Whether Brett Gardner will return next year is up in the air. The future of Clint Frazier with the Yanks is even more doubtful at this point as well. Thus, it is likely that the Yanks will be seeking a supplementary left fielder this offseason to split reps as Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge and “CF TBD” float around the outfield.
An excellent candidate that American League fans may be unfamiliar with is Tyler O’Neill. The 26-year-old has been with the St. Louis Cardinals during the last four years. He has been playing under the radar during that time.
However, O’Neill has truly blossomed during the 2021 season. He is raking a .281/.350/.526 slash line that includes 26 home runs and 61 RBI. The righty has an OPS of .876, and he received a Gold Glove in 2020. O’Neill has an impressive 5.2 WAR this year to boot.
This left-field candidate is arbitration-eligible for 2022, and he won’t become a free agent until 2025. Thus, O’Neill is clearly affordable. Given his 2021 breakout year, the Cardinals will want a valuable trade package in return. Of course, this assumes that the Cardinals will be open to trading him at this early point in his career. Still, given his tremendous upside and promise, the Yanks should inquire about his availability. The Bombers would be extremely fortunate to acquire him.
The Yankees have clearly underperformed this year, primarily because several players who had done well in the past turned out to be major disappointments. The Yanks can significantly improve their 2021 record by releasing certain players and replacing them with new players through free agency and trades. Let’s hope that the organization makes intelligent decisions and acquires the highest quality players possible during the offseason.