Seattle Mariners: the Tyler O’Neill and Marco Gonzales trade. How’d it turn out?

Tyler O'Neill, former Mariners prospect, of the St. Louis Cardinals waits during a game.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 19: Tyler O’Neill, former Mariners prospect, of the St. Louis Cardinals, plays against the Chicago Cubs. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto traded away Tyler O’Neill to the Cardinals for Marco Gonzales three years ago. How did it turn out?

The Seattle Mariners and Jerry Dipoto took a huge gamble on acquiring Marco Gonzales near the MLB trade deadline in 2017 from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Tyler O’Neill. At the time, O’Neill was the 36th ranked MLB prospect, so he was not just some nobody. The Mariners drafted O’Neill in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft.

O’Neill was drafted out of high school and made it all the way up to Triple-A with the Tacoma Rainiers before being traded as a 22-year-old. The Mariners were high on O’Neill and fans were disappointed to see Tyler O’Neill go without making an appearance for the Mariners.

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Gonzales on the other hand was the Cardinals’ number one prospect at one point (2015), but his ceiling was diminishing as he got older and battled injuries. He was the 19th overall selection by the Cardinals in 2013 out of Gonzaga University. Marco Gonzales was 25-years-old when he was traded and was making his way back from shoulder problems and Tommy John surgery.

The trade looked like a win for the Cardinals at the time because they were getting an exciting outfield prospect who was ready to play in the big leagues soon. The Mariners on the other hand were taking a gamble on a left-handed pitcher who was coming back from Tommy John surgery and was 25-years-old. Also, Gonzales was not one of those prospects throwing 95+ mph, he was a controller of the strike zone with a low 90s fastball.

Looking at the trade now, Jerry Dipoto seems like he won it. After joining Seattle, Marco Gonzales has posted a 3.97 ERA with the Mariners and struck out 386 batters in 476 innings. The Gonzaga product has also thrown two complete games in four seasons with the Mariners. Marco had the best season of his career in 2020. He started 11 games, and one was a complete game. The Mariners ace had a 3.10 ERA and struck out 64 batters in 69.2 innings. He also had an amazing 0.9 walks per nine innings. Marco would have been an All-Star if an All-Star team was selected in 2020.

Tyler O’Neill played his first full season in the MLB and surprisingly won a Gold Glove Award in left field. He made his MLB debut with the Cardinals in 2018 as a 22-year-old and did pretty well. The young outfielder played around half of the regular season in 2019 and had another steady season hitting .262.

And in 2020, he did not hit well, but he played amazing defense. O’Neill hit just .173 in 50 games. Tyler O’Neill surprised fans with his Gold Glove finalist nomination because he is not particularly athletic or wowing on defense compared to a Kevin Kiermaier or Mookie Betts. O’Neill does not seem like a good candidate to win the NL Gold Glove Award in left field, but his numbers certainly proved he deserved it. O’Neill had an impressive 10 zone total fielding runs above average, and 9 defensive runs saved.

If O’Neill can keep up his defensive metrics, he may be a valuable asset for the Cardinals. His hitting should come around soon so that is promising for the Cardinals. I think the trade has evened out now that Tyler O’Neill won a Gold Glove Award but Gonzales has been amazing for the Mariners. Marco Gonzales will be extremely important for the Mariners moving on as the rebuilding is nearing an end.