CARDINALS ACQUIRE RHP RILEY O’BRIEN FROM MARINERS FOR CASH CONSIDERATIONS; CLAIM INF/OF JARED YOUNG FROM CUBS
ST. LOUIS, Mo., November 6, 2023 – The St. Louis Cardinals announced they have acquired right-handed pitcher Riley O’Brien from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for cash considerations and claimed corner infielder/outfielder Jared Young off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.
O’Brien, 28, was originally selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 8th round (229th overall) of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft out of the College of Idaho. The 6-foot-4, 180 lb. hurler has two games of Major League experience making his debut with the Cincinnati Reds in a 2021 start versus the Chicago White Sox and made a relief appearance for the Mariners in 2022.
Over six minor league seasons, the Seattle, Wash., native has compiled a 26-25 record with a 3.58 ERA and 504 strikeouts over 439.1 innings pitched. He also has two shutouts and 15 successful saves on his pitching resume.
Last season, O’Brien made 51 appearances for the Mariners Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma posting a 2-5 record with a 2.29 ERA and 15 saves. The 2023 Pacific Coast League Postseason All-Star averaged 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched with 86 punchouts over 55.0 innings. In the second half of the season, O’Brien posted a 1.88 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and struck out 43.6% of batters faced over 24.0 innings pitched.
O’Brien shares a Cardinals lineage as he is the grandson of former infielder Johnny O’Brien, who played 12 Major League games for the Redbirds in 1958 including a rare pitching appearance for a position player, the first by any Cardinal position player since Pepper Martin in 1936. His great uncle, Eddie O’Brien, was a utility infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1953-58.
Young, 28, was drafted by the Cubs in the 15th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Old Dominion University and made his Major League debut in 2022. The 6-foot, 185 lb. left-handed hitter appeared in 16 games with the Cubs in 2023 and has accumulated 69 plate appearances at the Major League level. Over six minor league seasons, the Prince George, British Columbia, Canada native has hit for a .269 average with a .778 OPS, 69 HR and 319 RBI.
Last season served as a breakout year for Young, who slashed .310/.417/.577 with a career-high 21 HR and 72 RBI across 90 games for AAA Iowa. His .994 OPS ranked 4th among Triple-A players with at least 350 plate appearances.
O’Brien and Young will be added to the Cardinals 40-player roster which now stands at 40.
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The Cardinals should be making a few more moves in the next few days to get a few 40-man spots. Pitchers James Naile, Packy Naughton, Wilking Rodriguez, and Guillermo Zuniga could be cut at any time. Jose Fermin, Buddy Kennedy, and Young are all pretty much interchangeable, so any of them could be outrighted. Michael Siani doesn’t provide a lot of value in a full outfield, while Juan Yepez and Moises Gomez didn’t get a change to really contribute last year; any of them could be roster casualties.
O’Brien looks questionable on the surface; he’s bounced around a bit and hasn’t had much MLB success in a very small sample size. It looks like his 2023 season in Triple A was successful though; he had a 2.29 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 55.0 innings, notching 15 saves in 19 opportunities. He limited opponents to .188 batting average while sporting an almost 3-to-1 strikeout to walk rate and a 1.80 groundball to flyball ratio.
He’s got a mid-90s fastball that touches 97 with good sink; it’s started to play up once he moved to the bullpen. He’s also got a plus slider and a very good cutter to go with the heat. He’s got the pitchers frame. He’s worked in the past at Driveline, a baseball development facility that uses modern technology to get more out of pitchers; it’s this type of training the Cardinals need an introduction to.
It’s harder to get excited about Young; he’s a utility player with limited speed, power, or age. He’s pretty much limited to first, second, or corner outfield; he could probably handle third in a pinch. He’s a depth player and probably won’t (or at least shouldn’t) see much MLB action.
These aren’t big moves yet, so don’t flip out about these being the guys the Cardinals have gotten. Teams can start signing free agents today, but don’t expect much until the Winter Meeting in December.