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.