It didn’t take long for Reds manager Bryan Price to make this decision and, at the same time, create a little news on the day that pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training in Goodyear, Arizona.

Essentially, according to the reports, Price says that the second base job — in the wake of yesterday’s Brandon Phillips trade — is Jose Peraza’s to lose. Zack Cozart will be the starting shortstop.

So that’s that, I guess? The middle infield is set!

Not so fast, my friends. If you had told me last June that Peraza would be the starting second baseman on Opening Day of 2017, I’d have been fine with that. Peraza needs to play, and I can see why he’d get a crack at the job. He’s a good player, and he needs to be in the lineup somewhere.

I’m just not sure why Price felt the necessity to announce something like this, even before position players have set foot in the Reds’ spring training complex. What’s the rush?

One of the questions that must be answered this season is whether Dilson Herrera is the long-term solution at second base. We won’t know the answer to that question until Herrera gets a long look at the keystone in the big leagues. I feel fairly certain that Herrera will get plenty of playing time this year. Price’s declaration today doesn’t change that.

At least, I hope not. Peraza needs to play. Herrera needs to play. Period.

So where does that leave Cozart? Price says that Cozart won’t be a part-time player. I’m fine with that, for a couple of reasons. First, Cozart is still a good player. He’s probably too old to be a key member of the next good Reds team, but he’s likely to be a contributor in 2017. Cozart is not Phillips. He’ll likely help the Reds, as long as he isn’t hitting in the 2-spot very often.

Also, Cozart needs to play in order to build his trade value. The Reds have made no secret of the fact that they are seeking to deal Cozart, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. If they sit him on the bench, it’ll be next-to-impossible to trade him.

Ultimately, here’s where I have an issue with Bryan Price issuing proclamations so early in spring training. With Phillips out of the mix, there’s no reason that he can’t find enough at-bats for all three players — Peraza, Herrera, Cozart.

Peraza has already shown he can play a number of positions. Ideally, you’d like him starting at shortstop full-time for the same reason that the Reds need to see Herrera at 2B: to find out if he can handle it long-term. But while Cozart is still around, you can start both of those guys at shortstop part of the time, while tossing Peraza into the center field mix, too.

Further, as we discussed on the most recent podcast, it seems like a no-brainer to give Cozart some time at second base and third base, too. There’s little question he could handle the defensive switches; after all, he’s an excellent shortstop. From the Reds’ perspective, it demonstrates a little versatility that might help trade discussions. From Cozart’s perspective, it adds another line or two to his resume that might help him secure a few more seasons in the majors as he becomes a free agent.

I’m not going to dig too deep into the question of how playing time should be apportioned. Jason Linden has a great — and more in-depth — piece on precisely that topic that will run here tomorrow morning.

Ultimately, this question remains: what’s the point of making this decision so soon? I’m perfectly willing to believe that Bryan Price knows more than I do, but I don’t get it.

67 Responses

  1. David

    I don’t think Bryan Price would be just popping off if this hadn’t already been cleared by the Front Office.
    It does seem like a silly pre-emptive statement before Spring Training has even started.

    • Bill


  2. Old-school

    Price probably wants a stable double play combination and let them build familiarity with each other and get plenty of repetitions together.

  3. Shchi Cossack

    Bryan Price is all about roles. Joe Maddon wants to find out who can play where effectively, without any consideration for defined roles. Maddon values flexibility, not roles. Maddon wants to know how he can set his lineup to give his team the best opportunity to win as often as possible. Maddon demands flexibility from his players as a commitment to winning and he also demands that commitment to flexibility from the front office. I think anyone who doesn’t appreciate that Maddon was the driving force behind the FA signing of Ben Zobrist is missing the boat.

    I think Price believes he was doing the team and players (and himself) a favor by defining roles at this early juncture. It’s how he was developed as a player, coach and now manager. It is what it is.

    • Chuck Schick

      Price is in his second straight lame duck year, coming off 3 straight losing seasons and his new boss is the owners son. I find it highly improbable that he is making these types of decisions. Why would Dick Williams allow Price to decide anything that has long term repercussions?

      Maddon likely has more power than most managers…certainly more than Price…but hard to believe his mix and match position philosophy was approved by Epstein.

      • Chuck Schick

        I meant to say I’m sure Maddon’s position change philosophy was approved by Epstein

  4. Steve Mancuso

    After the huge step forward in the Rebuild accomplished by trading Brandon Phillips, it’s heartbreaking to hear the Reds say they’re going to play Jose Peraza at 2B a bunch this year, knowing the long-term plan is having him play at SS. More (mostly) wasted opportunity.

    My hope of hopes is that Price’s statement is the Reds trying to boost Cozart’s trade value by making it seem like he’s still a vital part of their plans.

    I agree wholeheartedly that the Reds should play him at 2B and 3B as well as SS. As Matt’s excellent post this morning demonstrates, the SS market may be a tough fit. Even if someone gets hurt, Cozart has to be better than the local backup or prospect. Being able to play other IF positions (I’d even try him at 1B) makes him more marketable.

    No way I play Cozart everyday just to boost his trade value from here (holding hand one inch above table) to here (holding hand two inches above table). The time – if ever – for that kind of move was last year. Yes, the Reds have to prove that Cozart is healthy enough to play. But the incremental trade value isn’t worth delaying playing time for Dilson Herrera and moving Jose Peraza to SS.

    • eric3287

      It seems like every time Price and/or the front office say something regarding player personnel, the fans are left hoping that they are playing some kind of sophisticated three-dimensional chess and just bluffing their way to an incredible move that is going to happen down the line. Unfortunately, they have proven time and time again that isn’t true. They aren’t playing any kind of chess. They’re barely playing checkers.

      The Reds Way, such that one exists, is to guarantee playing time for the vet, in his position of choosing and typically for his preferred batting spot in the line up, and to make the younger guys adjust. If they waste a year of development playing at a position that won’t be their long-term home, so be it. Vets gotta play. I think we are going to see a lot of Cozart/Peraza up the middle, maybe Cozart/Herrera sparingly in May with Peraza in the OF. And then July 31st the Reds are going to trade Cozart for a player unlikely to ever see time in the major leagues. That’s just the way the Reds operate. And then next February, we will all be hoping to find out what the young guys can do with a full season, because the front office has wasted 3 years of a “rebuild.”

      • lwblogger2

        Unfortunately, I think you’re 100% correct #RebuildBinder

    • thecoastman

      I can’t imagine that someone won’t lose a SS in Spring Training and coming knocking on the Red’s door about Cozart so I’m sure they want to give him plenty of playing time in AZ.

      One thing I find curious is that no one is really talking about the fact that Herrera decided to play in the WBC, rather than trying to win a role in spring training. If you are a young guy with a shot at making a ML roster for the first time wouldn’t you think maybe that should be your priority? I hate to say it, but I think Herrera choosing the WBC just gave him a free pass straight to Louisville.

      • mcthompso

        I think being in the WBC might help him in Spring Training. Once he gets there, he will have been in game situation that is much more competitive than Spring Training. Should be more finely tuned at that point in the year than the guys that haven’t really been playing games.

      • MrRed

        I think there’s more to it than that. Herrera deciding to play in the WBC this year may well have been prompted by something the Reds told him about his opportunities this year.

      • VaRedsFan

        Is it possible that DH was going to play in the WBC before the Phillips trade was known? Of course it is.

    • greenmtred

      I’m braced for the excoriation that is bound to follow this, but it seems to me that there is value in having Perazza play next to Cozart for awhile. Perazza has the physical tools, and close observation of a guy who has really mastered the SS position could help his development. Just a thought, and I’m getting my hardhat before anyone has a chance to respond.

  5. JB WV

    I like this move by Price. Peraza will have a sense of comfort during ST knowing he’s going to be playing 2nd the majority of the time and building rapport with Cozart. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, anyway. Should there really be competition during ST for roster spots outside of a couple, 24th or 25th spots? It’s a small sample size, and guys are hitting and pitching against varying degrees of skill level. Further, these young arms are going to try and pitch at mid-season form during March. Is that a good thing? Go ahead and name your starters early. Let these guys adjust physically and mentally for the entire season. How many ST phenoms have we seen go bust when April comes around? Besides, with Cozart’s recent health issues, there’s a good chance Peraza will be at short before you know it and Herrera gets his shot at being a ML regular.

    • Old-school

      I agree if Peraza is the shortstop of the future…He needs to play shortstop….But this is a 2-3 month issue at most. Not ideal and not what I would do….But also not a huge problem…What if Herrera hits .517 in ST and and leads the team in hitting?

      • JB WV

        Shouldn’t factor in. It’s great, shows he has tons of promise, and if he goes down to AAA and tears it up then he gets a pretty quick call up. But what if, considering his ST stats, he makes the team, plays a couple times a week, and wastes time on the bench? or worse, gets thrown into the fire, hits .120 for three weeks and loses his confidence? I think earning a spot for your ST stats is a mistake, other than, as I said, one of the last bench spots. I’m not so sure about that, either.

      • Old-school

        I’m not disagreeing.I would love to see Herrera hit the cover off the ball and put pressure on the reds and Cozart from the start of ST.

  6. WVRedlegs

    Peraza was declared the 2B of the future just this time last year. The future at 2B has arrived. I am not so sure Peraza is the SS of the future. I think the Reds have other things in mind at SS. Listing Peraza like this is just setting an hierarchy at 2B. The Reds have seen too little of Herrera to declare him the starter I would suppose. Herrera is going to have to make Price change Price’s thinking with his play on the field.

    • eric3287

      If that’s really the case, the Reds never should have traded for him. The Reds realistically had 3 big trade pieces to play after the 2015 season; Frazier, Chapman, and Bruce. To spend two of the three chips on players that are very very similar is asinine. The ONLY way it makes sense is if the Reds think Peraza can play SS. It’s an odd way to go about finding out the answer to that question by never playing Peraza at SS. I guess if you don’t try, the experiment can’t fail.

      • I-71_Exile

        Remember Herrera was the second choice coming back from the Mets who may have been the only team interested in Bruce. Bruce had to go. Sometimes you take what you can get and then formulate a plan on how to best use it or who you are going to trade for next.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        When you are rebuilding — and trading veteran talent for prospects — you get the best talent you can, regardless of position. You get more position-specific when you’re later in this process and ready to contend.

    • lwblogger2

      I guess it’s possible that Peraza isn’t a MLB SS but if that’s the case, he’s far less valuable a player than if he can be a good MLB SS. I think the Reds need to find out for sure and playing him at 2B doesn’t answer that question #RebuildBinder

      • greenmtred

        He’ll get at-bats, though, and play middle infield, so it won’t be totally wasted. I realize that the two positions are different, but not as different as, say, shortstop and outfield.

      • lwblogger2

        Most certainly true. I don’t hate the idea but I’m not a fan either. Make sense? Like I said, if the Reds really don’t see an alternative, then better Peraza play 2B than not play much at all.

      • greenmtred

        Yup, makes sense, though Perazza getting a chance to closely observe Cozart might have some value.

      • greenmtred

        I hope that Peraza plays better shortstop than Suarez did. On the other hand, Suarez was starting to look like a good third baseman by the end of the season, so maybe the improvement would transfer.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        I don’t ever want to see Suarez play SS for the Reds again. He was horrible in 2015.

  7. sixpacktwo

    You are kiding right? ! no-brainer to give Cozart some time at second base and third base! If Cozart is not at SS he is being rested, period. Other players will move around, Cozart will not. Herrera will be at AAA until Late July.

  8. Hotto4Votto

    Why not make Cozart an every day guy and run his knee into the ground just like last year. That’s what happens when a manager is playing to win games so he can keep his current job or audition for another one. Price doesn’t care about development. He showed that last year by letting Peraza rot on the bench for a couple months. It wasn’t until Price ran Cozart into the ground that Peraza finally got consistent at bats.

    I completely agree that it should be an easy enough fix to find playing time for all three. It actually helps the bench situation out some. Peraza starts 2x at SS and 2B and once in the OF each week. That gives Cozart rest and helps ease Herrera into the everyday role. It also gives us a look at how Peraza would do as a super-sub.

    There’s no reason to determine this now. Just as there was no reason to determine whether or not Lorenzen would move to the bullpen or not. But Price if fixated on roles and must put everyone in their place or heaven forbid they may not be comfortable. They’re grown men, they can adjust to a little day to day uncertainty.

  9. lwblogger2

    So, play Peraza at a position that will most likely not be where the Reds want him to end up? This seems confusing to me #RebuildBinder

    • Eddie

      It was announced that Price is going to have Peraza practice throwing left handed

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    They’re not going to sit a $5 million shortstop on the bench unless he is hurt and unable to play. And they’re going to do everything they can to ensure they get some value for him at the trade deadline or before.

    • MrRed

      Actually, it’s not the money (they would probably have sat BP if he were on the roster even at his $14MM salary). I think the team’s reasoning for starting Cozart is because he’s still a productive player and they probably are still trying to build a trade market for him.

      We can argue whether it’s worthwhile for the team to be concerned about Cozy’s trade value at this point (seems dubious to me), but the priority for the team should be to get their younger players on the field.

      To me, this decision only makes sense if they believe that Herrera is starting this season in AAA no matter what.

  11. Preach

    Pitchers and catchers report!Pitchers and catchers report!Pitchers and catchers report!

    Hope Springs eternal! First Place! Wire to Wire!

    • lwblogger2

      Love it Preach! That said, I’m thinking 73-89 is more realistic 😉

    • greenmtred

      Best post today! Thanks, Preach.

  12. Scott Carter

    Cozart does not need to play every day to build value. Although I have no control over it, I like the idea of playing him 2 days at short take a day off play third one day and 2’cnd the next take a day off and repeat. This saves wear and tear and keeps him getting regular at bats. The only issue might be at second where the double play turn might be harder on his leg. But even if Herrera starts in AAA, it hurts the rebuild if he stays there all year and takes away whatever shine there was on the Jay Bruce deal.

    • IndyRedMan

      Herrera didn’t exactly light up AAA last year and he’s what 22 or 23? No big rush to get him up to the Reds imo……of course if memory serves me correctly Suarez only hit .255 or something at AAA.

  13. lost11found

    What service time considerations, if any, are going into this regarding Herrera?

    If they want to keep Cozart relevant as a trading chip while saving service time for herrera, I’d be fine with that approach. Bring Herrera up after the service time shenanigans are over and give him more and more PT as the season wears on.

    I’d be more upset if they bring him Northeast after ST and only use him as a bench bat while burning service time. We’ll have to wait and see how ST shakes out.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I think Herrera has only one option left. He has 119 days of major league service time with the Mets. Players can earn a maximum of 172 days in a major league service year, so if he has 53 or more days with the Reds this season, he will have the equivalent of a full year of major league service time.

  14. Moses

    I’m guessing that this is far more about Price not being the longtime manager here (going forward) than it is about the Front Office’s thinking on the rebuild. Price is a stick in the mud, and we shouldn’t expect too much more from him…

  15. GreatRedLegsFan

    Hopefully this is Price’s last year at least as a Manager

  16. sultanofswaff

    c. Trent tweeted yesterday that Dick Williams said the three infielders would rotate.

    Price has gone rogue…..again.

    Who is in charge here, the manager with every motivation to win now or the guy in charge of the success of the rebuild????


  17. earmbrister

    The Reds control both Peraza and Herrera until 2023. Wringing our hands about Peraza playing 3 months at 2B in 2017 seems to me to be an overreaction. Peraza’s natural position is SS and Herrera’s is 2B, so I’m fairly confident that they’ll adjust rather quickly after the trading deadline – assuming that Cozart is here that long.

    • I-71_Exile

      THIS. I have no issue with what B. Price said—nor if he changes his mind after spring training.

    • earmbrister

      and That, lol. Don’t know why people get so torn up about the public comments of the manager and GM. There is so much BS and fill that is necessary to navigate the waters of player management and relations, as well as dealing with the press. Judge them on their actions, not a sentence or two, possibly taken out of context.

      • MrRed

        Some fair sentiments, gentlemen. But we don’t have to look to far in the past to see that the Reds often follow through on these types of proclamations.

        I have no problem with them starting Herrera at AAA so long as it is a relatively short stay and they don’t get too focused on building trade value for Cozart.

        My thinking is they are going to have an opportunity to move Cozy once another team’s SS gets injured, so long as he can stay healthy himself.

      • lwblogger2

        And upon thinking a little more on this. Cozart is the wildcard here and two things are likely going to happen. Either of them result in Peraza ending up at SS. Possibility one is that Cozart is healthy and plays well. That makes him marketable and he should be moved no later than the deadline. Some team in contention will have a need at SS by then. Possibility two is that Cozart isn’t healthy and spends significant time on the DL. This means that Peraza plays SS in his absence. Actually, a 3rd possibility is that Cozart stays healthy but doesn’t play well. At that point the Reds can justify benching him in favor or bringing Herrera up and moving Peraza to SS. Really, my initial reactions may have been a little harsh considering that this is only likely to result in Peraza playing 2B for 2-3 months.

      • earmbrister

        Likewise gentlemen. Have a great day.

  18. Chuck Schick

    The Reds are a billion dollar enterprise. The reputation of ownership and the new GM hang in the balance of how succesfully they rebuild. Millions of dollars in ancillary revenue are on the line. Castellini is a Wharton graduate. Williams was an investment banker. His family has controlled Western-Southern for about a century.

    These are real business people who understand that real money and their family’s prestige is on the line…….so how could anyone be naive enough to think that a temporary, middle manager….who is easily replaceable…..has no track record of success….has any control over major decisions like this? No one would do that.

    Price has a job because he does what they want.

    • Old-school

      Agree…He also has a job because they don’t want their next manager to go through this. Let Price wallow in the transition mud. The true sign of when ownership feels the next great Reds window of success has arrived is when Price is replaced.

  19. Pablo Robles

    Price is probably the Reds best manager since sweet Lou. Here’s hoping the Reds sign him for a 10 year contract before a Korean team snatches him away from us.

      • Chuck Schick

        Davey Johnson is someone you hire to close the deal with a talented, ready to compete team. He can pick and chose where he wants to be and likely has enough clout to have contracturally guaranteed say over many things.

        Price is someone you retain because league rules require a manager and he likes making manager money more than pitching coach money and he’ll do what you tell him to do

    • I-71_Exile

      Bob Boone. He’s the man with the master plan and Felipe Alou says that Dave Miley is the best. So many choices!

  20. TR

    Peraza at second base should work just fine until Cozart is traded.

  21. Eddie

    Well Cozart be a starting shortstop next season? What will his contact look like?

  22. VaRedsFan

    Since when did Dilson Herrera become the 2nd coming of Ryne Sandberg all of a sudden? Three months at AAA is not the end of the world. The same people that want Jesse Winker to stay at AAA for some seasoning (rot) are the same ones that want to insert Herrera into the starting lineup as if he had Bryce Harper talent.

    A. Rodgers

  23. Carl Sayre

    I would like some help here folks?
    1.Hamilton CF
    2.Peraza 2B
    3.Votto 1B
    4. Mez C
    5.Suarez 3D
    6. Cozart SS
    7. Duvall LF
    8 Schebler RF
    9. P
    I know we have no idea how Mez will hit if he can play? I also could see Schebler and Duvall platooning in LF if they start Winker at the major league level and if that is the case maybe move Cozart down to the 8 hole! I could also see Peraza or Hamilton hitting in the 9 spot if they struggle with the bat. I will say with fingers and toes crossed it did look like before he was hurt that Hamilton was showing some improvement!

  24. JB WV

    Gotta hit Duvall 4th, Schebler 6th, and Cozart 8th to start. Adjust if necessary as time goes by. Like you, we’ll see how Devo does. Love to see him kill it and move to cleanup