The Red Sox made another trade this week, and it could pay off well for chief baseball officer Craig Breslow.

Boston traded right-handed pitching prospects Nick Robertson and Victor Santos to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Tyler O’Neill. The transaction gives the Red Sox a right-handed bat in the outfield and adds more depth following the Alex Verdugo trade to the New York Yankees.

O’Neill only played 72 games last season due to injuries, and the 28-year-old hit nine home runs with 21 RBIs on a 94 OPS+ during that span.

However, the six-year outfielder is a two-time Gold Glove winner, and his best season came in 2021. The 2013 third-round pick hit 34 home runs with 80 RBIs and 15 stolen bases on a 148 OPS+. He was a 5.5 fWAR player that year.

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O’Neill primarily played left field during his Cardinals career, but he mixed in at center during his final seasons. That means he should mix in with Masataka Yoshida, Jarren Duran and possibly Ceddanne Rafaela, whose defense was highly praised by Alex Cora.

Duran’s 2023 season ended due to a toe injury, and it’s unknown if the 27-year-old will be fit enough to start the season. If Rafaela does crack the major league roster, he’ll likely get a shot at playing center field, which is the preferred spot Cora wants the team’s prospect to play at. But O’Neill could fill in if needed.

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The defensive versatility arguably makes him more valuable than Verdugo. Despite the veteran’s Gold Glove acknowledgment, his runs above average numbers weren’t great, and for every flashy catch he made, there were just as many errors that cost the Red Sox. O’Neill has been average in runs above average in the past two seasons, but he had three runs above average in his Gold Glove seasons.

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O’Neill’s injury concerns could be alleviated if he does have a similar role as Rob Refsnyder. The eight-year veteran played 89 games last season and was relied upon to fill in for injuries or to take on left-handed pitchers. O’Neill also is proficient against lefties with a .295 OBP in the past two seasons along with a career .353 OBP against southpaws.

The veteran is in the last year of arbitration, and his 31% strikeout rate will need to be worked on with the coaching staff, but the Red Sox didn’t give up too much to acquire him. He’s a buy-low option that should make Boston set at the outfield position and focus on Breslow’s primary goal of improving the team’s starting pitching.

Featured image via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images