Mariners: The Gonzales-O’Neill Swap a Season Later.
By Jesse Levine
It was July 21st of last season when the Seattle Mariners and St Louis Cardinals pulled off a one for one swap. Tyler O’Neill, a top prospect in Seattle’s organization, went to St Louis for an inexperienced left-hander in Marco Gonzalez.
A year later, O’Neill and Gonzales have both spent time in the MLB, so my question is, up to this point which team got the better side of the deal? Let’s compare.
The Mariners Point of View
When Jerry Dipoto pulled off this deal one thing was clear; the Mariners needed starting pitching. With Gonzales on the team currently, nothing has changed.
The Mariners weren’t necessarily trading from a place of depth, but they were acquiring a piece from an area of need. And so far, I don’t think Mariners fans can complain.
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Although more is exoected from Gonzales, to start the season off the way he has is definitely a positive. Gonzales is off to a 4-3 start with a 4.05 ERA, completing six innings six times.
As the club continues to get poor starting pitching out of their rotation, having another guy other than James Paxton who could throw quality innings before the bullpen takes over is huge. Of course with newly acquired Alex Colome, along with Edwin Diaz, allowing three or fewer runs in six innings should be just fine.
It is reasonable to expect a quality start from Gonzales every five days, and with Felix Hernandez declining rapidly and Mike Leake also struggling, Gonzales needs to be on his game.
The Cardinals Point of View
The Canadian native has slowed down a little bit after getting off to a stellar start, but no one can complain about the way O’Neil has performed.
O’Neill is off to a .273/306/.576 start since being called up in mid-April. In between now and his first call-up, he was demoted. Since his second stint began his AVG and OBP, both went up 50 points.
Although O’Neil deserves to play every day in Missouri, he’s not. With outfielders Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham and Marcell Ozuna, one might wonder if O’Neil is even a fit. Last season when the trade was initially made the Cardinals had more outfield depth than they do now. There was never a need at an MLB level.
With each one of these outfielders having plenty of years left on their contract, O’Neil will need to force the hand of the clubs front office. Otherwise, he may be on the move again.
With the Cardinals starting staff pitching well, trading Gonzales has not left a poor aftereffect. With young arms in the system, the Cardinals are expected to be winners for years to come.
Although the trade has been a positive for both teams, the deal strung together last season has been more influential on the Mariners success.
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Without Gonzales who knows how the Mariners rotation would look. He has been a critical clog on a playoff caliber team. Although O’Neill could have that same type of impact with the Cardinals, the clubs overall depth doesn’t allow for that to seen.
The Mariners are in a better position because of the deal they swung last July.