Zack Cozart is off to a hot start. He’s one of the main reasons for the Reds early season success and has shown that he is fully recovered from the right knee injury that ended his season in 2015 and the sore Achilles tendon that ended his season in 2016.

Although it’s early in the season, Cozart’s current slash line is .450/.478/.700. That’s right around the top ten in the National League in on base and slugging percentage and in the top five in batting average.  Cozart has also displayed his consistent, machine-like defense this season that we have become accustomed to over the years.

If you’re like me, the start of this season has been weird…but in a good way. We were all fully expecting the Reds to look like a glorified minor league team but they have looked anything but that. The early season success has made me challenge my expectations for this team and question my position on certain players.

Zack Cozart is one of those players. His early season production has made me appreciate and acknowledge his worth to this team. He’s had a steady bat over the years and an even steadier glove. I was fully on board with the Reds trading him for a bucket of baseballs and a hot dog in order for some of the younger talent to take over at second base before the season started.

Cozart is currently signed through the year and will be a free agent in 2018. He’s 31 years old and his production is due to drop off relatively soon. The Reds will have a decision to make sooner than later regarding Cozart, his trade value, and if they Reds want to bring him back. If Cozart and the Reds continue to kill it over the first half of the season do they dangle Cozart as trade bait or try and resign him to a reasonable offer?

In my opinion, I think a couple things are becoming clear. I am no longer willing to kick Cozart to the curb and accept a trade offer just to accept a trade offer. Like I said before, I think many of us undervalued Cozart and were willing to accept any and all trades so that younger talent could take over. I’m open for trading Cozart still, but the offer must be a pretty lucrative one.

I also think time will tell. Much of the decision to trade Cozart or not will depend on how the Reds and Cozart play past the first 8 games of the season.  If they continue to play well and the core of the Reds future continues to improve I would be open to resigning Cozart at an affordable extension. If the Reds suddenly start tanking and young players start to regress then I think the situation becomes even less murky and the decision to trade Cozart is clear.

There are a lot of dynamics that play into the trading of Zack Cozart. Hopefully as the season progresses the direction becomes more clear and the Reds make the right decision.

18 Responses

  1. james garrett

    He is a good problem to have.I would think at some time this year somebody needs a shortstop and we get a good offer for him.The more he shows he is over the injury and can continue to play well the more he brings in a trade.

  2. VaRedsFan

    What would be a fair return for him?
    Low level (A or A+ ball) prospect with big upside?
    What about offer him to the Twins for Turner? I don’t think that’s enough for Cozart.
    Maybe cash + an unheralded prospect?

  3. Sr VP of #CBJ Tweets (@thecvail)

    signing Cozart to an extension would be foolish, as the Reds learned the last time they paid a middle infielder into his mid-30s

    not to mention Peraza and Gennett already on the MLB roster and Dilson Herrera at AAA, Alfredo Rodriguez and Shed Long, Blandino, et al

  4. Eric The Red

    Do you think there’s a gap between what Cozart “deserves” or expects in free agency, and what’s likely to be on offer? Lots of teams seem happily set at shortstop. Even if his value is $12 million a year–a made up number for illustrative purposes–based on the value of the WAR he’s putting up, if there are no teams looking for a starting shortstop then he’ll have a hard time finding a team.

    I wonder, too, how he values starting vs being a backup, and being on a good team vs a bad team. Maybe he’ll take “set for life” money to stay with the Reds and start at short the next 2-3 years, rather than squeeze every last dollar out of a chance to be a backup in Boston or a starter on a terrible team.

    Of course, the Reds seem to have some options, so even if he’d sign here at a discount, if a legitimate WS contender has an injury at shortstop and offers us a king’s ransom I’d take it. But I certainly wouldn’t trade him for a bucket of baseballs just to open up playing time for someone else.

    • Eric The Red

      So maybe we could convince him to take 2 years at $8M a year, or come up with some sort of opt out deal, and he takes it because he wants to start and he’s not planning to buy a gold plated jet? I’m not even sure it would be the right thing for the Reds, but this could be a fascinating case where the market for him to start and get a big pay day is softer than it should be and the Reds have familiarity/a starting job/a chance to win on their side.

      If I’m the Reds, the condition and long term outlook for Dillon Herrerra’s shoulder has a lot to do with how I view Cozart going forward.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        Herrera’s should has me wondering too. This many years of shoulder problems starts to make me wonder if this is chronic and never going to be fully functional.

  5. Craig Swafford

    An extension would be predicated on whether you pay him as a starter or sub. That’s why it was so important to get a look at him at 3B/2B in spring training, but alas….

    So long as the Reds are in contention, I think we should hold onto him. He won’t bring much in return, certainly not enough to offset his steady production, so what’s the harm.

    I’d also point out that Vincej is in AAA and very Cozart like. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him become a high floor, low ceiling ML starter.

  6. ScottyA

    Here’s another way of looking at keeping Cozart around.

    I’m starting to believe that this team can be a contender in 2018. If this is true: Which middle infield is better: Scenario 1: Cozart – SS, Herrera 2b 2. Peraza – SS, Herrera 2b

    I think a team with Cozart as SS and Herrera as 2b is a better team in 2018 & 2019.

    However agree with all that if the right offer in trade is made take it! I would do the same with Peraza if the right offer is made take it and sign cozart to a two year deal with a mutual year 3 or something like it.

    Also, if you combine cozarts 15 & 16 season you get roughly 1 season of plate appearances and his war would be for that full season 4.0 war.

    • ScottyA

      One of the two needs to be traded this season in order to get the max value for the club. I agree it will very likely be Cozart and that it likely is the best decision for the club.

      However, I’m not sold on Peraza’s range at SS or his swing at everything approach. If and I do mean IF Peraza is a below average fielding SS, he becomes a liability.

  7. Hokie Red

    We are only nine games into the season, way to early to even bring this topic up!

  8. Scott Carter

    Yes way to early to bring this up, the FO needs to see if Suarez continues hitting well and paying stellar defense, need to see if Herrera’s shoulder heals (Im beginning to have doubts), And Senzel is in the wings. I agree we should not let him go for next to nothing but if keeps hitting well, that should not be a problem coming up to the trade deadline, then a lot of these other issues will be seen in a larger sample size.

  9. Carl Sayre

    I am and have been a Cozart fan because I think he is a much better glove than most do! I place a high premium on defense especially up the middle defense, what can I say I am old! I still think even with how much I like his game he should be traded for the proper return the problem is just what is the proper return? I would over value him as stated above but I am thinking IF or OF with a high upside that could even be 4 or 5 years out if he would bring that type of player I kind of doubt it! I hope that Price has the same outlook on Cozart as I do and that is a day off a week maybe even two days off once a month will make him a better hitter deeper in the season! His bat started declining before the injury last year after the 1st half and IMO he was just tired! This roster as it is constructed right now would benefit with Gennet getting that occasional start shift Peraza to SS and give ZC a day off see how easy the managers job is!!!!!!!!!!!! LMAO!

    • jazzmanbbfan

      I came to really appreciate Cozart after he got hurt and I saw what subpar defense up the middle can do to a team. I also think if there is some reasonable offer in July, the Reds should take it. There appear to be enough middle infielders in the system knocking on the door that at least a couple of them will pan out.

  10. JB WV

    If the Reds are contending in July and Zach is healthy, you have to bite the bullet and play through it. Course this is a big IF, and by contending I mean near or at the top for the wild card, not 5-6 games back of 3-4 teams. Outside of Votto, he’s the only old guard left from the contenders. H’ed have a lot of value down the stretch as a Red, playing short.
    By the way, played ball with a guy named Jay Rorhig at GWHS in Charleston. Know him?

  11. bouwills

    A few things have changed this year: #1 Hererra’s shoulder (or at least it’s been noticed), #2 BP gone, #3 Gennett pick up, & #4 Zart healthy. I have no idea what the Reds infield will look like in 2018 & beyond, but if the Reds are offered quality talent for Zach, they have to take it. That still leaves Peraza, Hererra, Suarez, & Gennett in the mix for 3 jobs. Even Kivelehan can play some 3rd to let the Reds see if Suarez can move back to ss. It’s a fluid situation. Let it flow.

  12. ben

    I thought people only thought we should “sell low” because they wanted to “sell now” and with his injury the price would be low. Now that he has recovered his form, we can “sell high” because we still want to “sell now” and he happens to be more valuable right now than he was the last 9 months.

  13. VaRedsFan

    You are throwing out a WAR number for Phillips like he failed that year. He was having his a great season when he was hit on the wrist by a pitch in Pittsburgh and that derailed his season. He was nothing but quality when he was healthy as a Red.

  14. Jay King

    I have always been a fan of Cozart. I feel like he is not flashy but very consistent in the field and honestly I would be perfectly fine with signing him for a 2 year deal with maybe a team option for a third year. I personally don’t think there is much of any kind of market for Cozart this season unless someone gets injured on another team. I would be ok with signing him 2 years around 9 to 10 million each Give some incentive clauses in the new contract to raise the stakes for Cozart to continue to produce.

    I have heard good thing about Herrrera when he is healthy from a couple Mets fans I know but even they said his health is a big question.