Yes. Yes, I know. I know we've been anti-the Yankees' pursuit of Tyler O'Neill in the past. But that was before we actually got to the end of July and saw their other options.
Now, suddenly, O'Neill seems like a potential bounce back alternative in need of a new home. He's preferable to Randal Grichuk, whose defense is as weak as Jake Bauers' in left (Bauers is a natural first baseman). He's preferable to Dylan Carlson, one of Brian Cashman's prized receding top prospects who'll still cost 2-3 big names.
And, most importantly, if the Yankees are pursuing Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks as feverishly as team insider Derrick Goold insinuated on Friday, then it would make perfect sense to expand the package just a bit for O'Neill rather than stretch it wildly for Carlson.
The Cardinals were reportedly attempting to extend the flamethrowing Hicks earlier this week, but it seems that fell apart. The Yankees and Rangers are now at the front of the line in ongoing trade discussions. Both teams have recent experience with 103 MPH-slinging relievers. The same guy, in fact.
Yankees Rumors: New York pursuing Cardinals' Jordan Hicks at 2023 MLB Trade Deadline?
Hicks, prone to the type of wildness that comes with the territory, shook off a disastrous streak earlier this season that nearly led to his DFA and returned to form. He's now struck out 59 men in 41.2 innings, lowering his ERA to 3.67 from a peak of 20.25 (it still sat as high as 12.71 after seven outings). He's a free agent at the end of this season and comes dirt cheap; he's only making $1.84 million this season, $1.23 million of which will already have been paid by the Cardinals by the time Aug. 1 rolls around.
Bullpen help is paramount for the worn-out Yankees, even though Jonathan Loaisiga is reportedly returning before the season ends. The 'pen doesn't represent as big a hole as left field, though. Considering most of baseball still believes O'Neill to be both on the outs and injured, it might behoove the Yankees to cut the line here, considering the slugger's recent sprint data shows that he's shaken off his leg issues.
In 2021, O'Neill was a 34-homer bat with a 148 OPS+ in the process of finishing eighth in the NL MVP voting. He hasn't been the same since, but whoever acquires him will have a year and two months to determine what, exactly, he is now and will be moving forward.
With too many eyes on Carlson and New York's focus suddenly on Hicks, they should try to convince the Cardinals to tack on someone who might've been the deal's centerpiece just a few months ago.