2017 Reds

The Case for Keeping Zack Cozart

Zack Cozart is in the midst of the best season of his career. The first time all-star and donkey owner is currently batting .312 with a .403 OBP and .983 OPS. He’s on pace to hit more home runs and RBIs than he ever has and has continued to show the rock solid defense that we have grown accustomed to over the years. He’s been arguably the best shortstop in the National League this year. Zack Cozart is making the game look pretty simple, what’s not so simple is how to handle his contract situation at the end of the 2017 season.

Since the Reds failed to trade Zack  Cozart by the trade deadline they basically have three options when it comes to his contract:

  1. Don’t make him a qualifying offer or contract extension and let him walk in free agency.
  2. Make him a qualifying offer of around 18 million dollars. He can either accept this or reject it. If he accepts it he will be a Red in 2018. If he rejects it and signs elsewhere the Reds could get a first or second round draft pick.
  3. Offer him a contract extension.

I am in favor of the Reds keeping Zack Cozart. How they keep him though, is the key. I would not offer Cozart a qualifying offer. If the point of extending him a qualifying offer is to keep him on the team (and not get a draft pick) then it just doesn’t make sense. With the Reds most likely not being all that competitive next year in 2018, what good is one extra year of Cozart’s services for such a hefty price tag? Keeping him on the team is all about having his stability at shortstop and in the lineup when the next window to win opens. The qualifying offer doesn’t guarantee this.

What I would do is offer Cozart a reasonable contract extension. If the trade deadline showed us anything, it showed us that there just isn’t a huge market for shortstops right now. Keeping that in mind, it’s kind of hard to imagine his value being driven up all that high in free agency. I think if the Reds sat down with Cozart they could hammer out a multi-year extension that would make sense for both parties. The Reds could even use what happened at the trade deadline as leverage. The whole point of signing Zack Cozart to an extension is to guarantee his production on the next winning Reds team. A multi-year extension does this.

There are some concerns when it comes to extending Zack Cozart. Age, injury history, and performance history are probably the biggest three. This is where I think the Reds need to be careful in just how much they offer Cozart when it comes to a contract extension. The single most important thing when it comes to extending him is the dollar amount. The Reds need to invest in Cozart and his entire MLB body of work and not just his gaudy 2017 numbers.

Extending Zack Cozart makes sense for a team that doesn’t have a lot of pieces in the middle infield that make sense. Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera have done nothing this year to show they are the middle infield of the Reds’ future. Extending Cozart will give the Reds infield stability on, hopefully, their next winning team and can even provide a stop gap to give younger guys like Peraza and Herrera more time to develop.

Zack Cozart is having the best year of his career at the age of 31 and I think he has a few more really good years in him. He can be a valuable asset and a good player on the Reds’ next winning team. The Reds’ everyday eight has actually been very good this year and by bringing Cozart back you solidify the lineup and eliminate another question that the rebuild asks. At this point, the rebuild is about going forward. If you part ways with Zack Cozart at the end of this year you are moving backward.

Another important factor to consider when thinking about if the Reds’ should resign Zack Cozart is to look at the Reds’ actual payroll. They are currently ranked in the bottom five in payroll in all of baseball. The Reds don’t have many players coming up for contract extensions and have money to spend. Bringing back Zack Cozart for a few years on a reasonable contract isn’t going to kill their payroll and limit the future of this team. It’s a solid investment at this point in time.

Zack Cozart has been a solid player for the Reds over the years. By resigning him you give him a chance to be a part of the next Reds’ team that enjoys success. Hopefully Zack Cozart will be a big part of that success.

66 thoughts on “The Case for Keeping Zack Cozart

  1. “Zack Cozart is having the best year of his career at the age of 31 and I think he has a few more really good years in him.”

    The case for keeping Cozart rests on whether or not he has more than one really good year in him. The Reds are (most likely) not going to be competitive in 2018, based on the fact that they don’t seem to have the pitching. So you’re paying well over $10MM+ next year for a SS on a non-competitive team, hoping that 2018 isn’t his last good year. If the Reds can compete in 2019, you’re counting on your 33 year old SS to keep his career year going (and his defense up) for 3 full seasons, considering you need him to be at his best at the end of the season/beginning of playoffs.

    At that point, is he going to be that much better at SS than Peraza/Suarez/Blandino/etc.?

    Personally, I don’t think it’s worth the gamble. Let him go find the biggest contract he can. Wish him well. Give Peraza (or Suarez if Senzel is going to play 3B) those two years of development at SS.

    Just because the Reds have the money to spend doesn’t mean they should spend it on an aging SS. They have plenty of other needs. Why reduce payroll flexibility on a position where there is depth, even if that depth is raw and undeveloped? It’s not as good now, but may be equal by the end of 2019. Rather than spend $12MM each on the next three years on Cozart, I’d rather see them blow $18MM each year on a starting pitcher in 2019 and 2020.

  2. Can the Reds really afford to allocate 12-15%
    Of payroll on a guy who is often injured and finally seemed to ” get it” during his contract season?

      • But wouldn’t those funds be better spent in free agency or locking up another young player for multiple years?

        Don’t get me wrong, I understand your argument, I just think it’s too big of a gamble. The last thing the small market Reds need is to sink more money into another bad contract when they have in-house candidates who could fill that position (be it Suarez or Peraza) for considerably less. I guess it ultimately depends on how they choose to address their other holes.

        • What’s the difference between signing a free agent or keeping Cozart? You are spending money on a quality player regardless.

          I get the argument about having young guys taking over his position, but they are still question marks. Peraza has shown nothing this year. Why not sign Cozart on a three year deal, let Peraza and Herrera continue to develop, and have the best of both worlds?

          • The difference is Cozart is very close to the age where players can suddenly fall off a cliff, and this is simply a gamble a small market team like the Reds can’t afford to take. They have options at SS with Suarez and Peraza. In some ways, Cozart would cause more problems than he would solve as the Reds need a position for Suarez, Peraza, and Senzel to play, and Cozart would be blocking that from happening. Peraza is developing before our eyes. He needs to play, not to have Cozart taking at-bats away from him.

            The money would be better used to address real problem areas such as pitching or bench players, or to lock up some of the young core that will be the future of the Reds. It should not be used to take a gamble on an injury prone, 31-year-old shortstop.

  3. I really like him… his character… and his approach to the game.
    That being said… Peraza is showing signs of getting it. We have to find a place for Senzel.
    I think it would be best for cutting ties

  4. My immediate reaction to this post is to try and talk myself into taking umbrage with your assertion that 2018 will be another bad year. So here I go, trying to talk myself into 2018 as a better day:

    As you noted, it pretty well comes down to the pitching. The Reds’ lineup has been solid this year, and has the chance to be more so next year, with some combination of:

    C: Barnhart/Mesoraco
    1B: Joey HoF (I’m upgrading him from Joey MVP; hope no one minds)
    2B: Peraza/Suarez
    SS: Cozart/Peraza/Suarez
    3B: Suarez/Senzel
    LF: Duvall
    CF: Hamilton/Schebler
    RF: Schebler/Winker

    Personally, I’m pulling for the Duvall/Schebler/Winker outfield, with Billy coming off the bench to run and play defense, but I know that may not be realistic. But anyway …

    The bullpen doesn’t look horribly bad, either, with guys like:

    Iglesias
    Lorenzen (I know, but reality)
    Adleman (tends to get in trouble after multiple times through the lineup, so – bullpen)
    Peralta
    Ariel Hernandez

    Yes, you need to fill that out more, but I have a sneaking suspicion that guys like Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan, and a few others will end up making the shift to the bullpen, and they will end up filling out this group. So – maybe not studs across the board, but the makings of a solid bullpen.

    So now, the crux: Starting pitching.

    – Luis Castillo: We’re all excited every time he starts. He’s in, and that’s a good thing.

    – Sal Romano: He’s doing what you want a young pitcher to do in a season like this: He’s learning how to pitch at a big-league level. I’m not ready to say that last outing was a turning point, but he took a different approach and it worked for him. If he can learn and adjust accordingly – and I think he can – then I think Big Sal’s gonna be okay. So this one’s in pencil, but I actually feel okay about him.

    – Anthony DeSclafani: Who knows? I want him to come back, and I want him to be good when he does. And he might. But who knows? Just putting him here as a possibility.

    – Tyler Mahle: No Major League action to speak of, so we can’t know anything for sure. But I think we all feel good about this kid; the potential is there.

    – Homer Bailey: He’s going to be in the rotation. From what we’ve seen this year, that’s unlikely to be a good thing. But keep in mind how much he’s coming back from. I think what we’ll see from Homer next year will be something in between what we used to see, and what we see now. A decent bottom-of-the-rotation guy.

    – Scott Feldman: No guarantee he’ll be a Red. No guarantee he’ll be good. But he’s been perfectly adequate this year, and if we need him to fill out the bottom of the rotation, I’m fine with that.

    – Robert Stephenson: Like Romano, I’m not ready to say he’s turned a corner. But his last few starts have been encouraging (though not dominating, I know). His control seems to be ticking up, too, which is critical. He’s given enough that it’s not time to give up on him, but the leash should be short.

    – Amir Garrett: Man, I wish they hadn’t screwed with him when things were going well. His name needs to be on the list, but I don’t know what to make of him at all.

    – Jackson Stephens: Don’t know enough to comment on whether we should count on him for anything. But another name that belongs in the conversation.

    So … that’s nine names. The bad news is, there’s only one of those I’m ready to write into the rotation in ink and feel good about it (Castillo). The good news is, I’m going to say that’s eight more guys from whom three need to pan out next year. And that’s where the extra budget that Jeff talked about comes in with me. Because the Reds have the money to go out and find one good pitcher to fill out the rotation. Jake Arrieta, You Darvish, Rich Hill … take your pick, and put them at or near the top of the rotation alongside Castillo.

    Again, I’m trying to talk myself into this, even as I try to talk you into it. But with the current lineup, the bullpen options available, and a rotation that looks something like:

    Hill/Darvish/Arrieta/Other Free Agent
    Luis Castillo
    Sal Romano
    Tyler Mahle/Robert Stephenson/Scott Feldman/Anthony DeSclafani
    Homer Bailey

    … Could the Reds be competitive next year? I don’t know. But I’m trying to talk myself into it.

      • I lumped Finnegan under the bullpen section. A part of me always thought he would land there, but given his recent injury history, I’ve reached the point where I feel like any success he’s going to have will be as a reliever. Which I hate, because I was really excited about him as recently as about May.

    • Good post. I’m 100% with you that we need to acquire a starting pitcher from outside the organization. I think there’s enough depth in the minors to acquire that pitcher for prospects and would go that route in order to secure a cost controlled starter rather than a free agent.

  5. Resign Cozart please. I’m not sold on Peraza either at bat or in the field, though I will acknowledge that the last few weeks have been slightly better for him at the plate. But if the point of developing good players is to have good players and build a good team, why let Cozart go just as he’s figuring it out at the plate? And since I’m 100% convinced anyone else in the Reds system would be a step back on both sides of the ball, I say extend Cozart (assuming he’s amenable to a reasonable deal). The argument about what a high percentage of payroll he’d represent is silly. It’s not that Zack will be that expensive, just that almost all the other players are really cheap. The only alternative I’d give serious consideration to is sliding Suarez back to short. Yes, he’s been weak there in the past, but he was also weak at third for awhile and boy has that changed. IF Eugenio is on board with that switch I’d say maybe. But I’d rather see Cozart at short, Suarez at third and Senzel at second. Extend Cozart. I’m in.

  6. Or…. trade one of our two excellent young 3rd basemen for an excellent young shortstop?

  7. The big question for me is what to do with Peraza. Suarez Senzel and Cozart close the door for anything much more than an utility infielder for the next few years. And that’s ok. Peraza is young and has more value than an utility player. If you aren’t going to play Peraza and Winker regularly then trade them for pitching.

  8. Fine – extend Cozart. I like him too and his power and swing are grooved for GAB. The question is how much will you pay for him. I say 30MM/3 yrs tops.

  9. Arguing is what we do best at RLN.

    However….

    “He’s been arguably the best shortstop in the National League this year.”

    Uh, no.

    Corey Seager would like more just a word on this.

    Almost one full WAR ahead, more WAR both offensively and defensively than Cozart and he is in the lineup most of the time, something Cozart is struggling with.

  10. I don’t see how you can pay him what he will get on the open market.He will be missed but we do have younger and cheaper players to fill his spot.I didn’t say better I said younger and cheaper.

  11. Without knowing what conversations the Red’s and Cozart have already had it makes it difficult to say what they should do. It also is dependent on what the plan for Suarez and potential position of Senzel. If Senzel can play 2B it opens up the options even more. If the plan is for Sure toove back to SS and Senzel remain at 2B there is no reason for an extension. The QO may make sense to give Senzel another year in that scenario with Peraza there as the back up plan if Cozart does not accept. With Gennet, Perraza, Herrera, and Senzel/Suarez the Reds have multiple options for 2B. While losing Cozart hurts offensively I think these other options allow the Reds to let him leave. The QO is a gamble that either ties up 18 million or gives an extra draft pick who may or may not ever make it to the majors

  12. Signing cozart to a 3 year deal….sets into motion a number of downstream long term effects:
    1. The reds are closing the door on Suarez playing Shortstop…now is his time to switch…not in 2020 or 21.
    2. Peraza at age 23 will not be the Shortstop either.
    3. Senzel won’t be the third baseman for the Cincinnati reds.
    4. The opportunity cost of a substantial contract to cozart eats away at options for FA pitchers or extensions for core young players( Suarez).
    5. A huge roster backlog is created….Gennett and Herrera and Peraza and blandino and Senzel are all 2b. Herrera has to be on the 25 man roster in 2018.

    I would let cozart walk…move Suarez…put Senzel at 3b…platoon scooter and Herrera…Peraza is backup shortstop utility. Blandino is depth at 3 positions. Increase payroll to look at extending Suarez and signing a veteran mid rotation SP.

    • Fair point. The unintended consequences could be costly. The scenario you paint w/o Cozy is one I would like to see—players with postional versatility. The Reds are hung up on one guy ‘owning’ a position and playing it day in day out, sometimes to the detriment of the team (Hamilton). It’s is out of touch with how teams are constructed nowadays.

      That said, like we see with Brandon Phillips playing 3B, I’d love Cozy on a 3 year, $28mil deal under the conditions that he learn 2B and 3B. Had he done so before this season I bet you would’ve had multiple teams interested in his services.

        • They have Rafael Devers there now. With Devers being 20 years old, and holding the all-time record already for the fastest pitch hit for a homer, (yes, a lefty hitter hit a 102.8 mph Aroldis Chapman pitch over the Wall in Fenway) the Red Sox have no need or interest in Cozart.

    • Like everything but putting Suarez at short. He’s turned into an outstanding 3rd baseman and will get better there with his work ethic. You could say that he would do the same at short, but I don’t think he’ll ever have the range there to be more than mediocre. But yes, at this point, hate to say it, gotta let Zach walk.

    • Have to agree about Peraza not being a starting short stop . I have watched almost every game and at times he looks lost ,not in position or just watching the game and every time it hurts your pitcher. I believe the other teams recognized this and that’s why the reds came by him so easy!

    • Why increase the payroll? Team is going to be bad. Attendance will be bad. Reds should keep payroll low another year and tank one more season.

    • I agree. The proper move, instead of extending Cozart, is to extend Suarez and move him back to shortstop, where he profiles as an above-average hitter for his position. Defensively, you have to assume that he can move back there and apply what he has learned to excel at third base. If you have a Suarez who shows the plate discipline he has shown in recent months, and plays defense at short as well as he has at third, you have an All-Star.

      And, you have third base open for Senzel to play sometime next year — presuming that he is adequate or better than average defensively there, which I have no idea.

  13. I think any decision of extending Cozart has to be made with clear eyes about this Reds offense (and pitching) going forward. The Reds got themselves into this mess because they kept thinking, “Next year all the good stuff about this year will stay the same and the bad stuff will get better.” That is a disastrous recipe.

    Joey Votto is going to be 34 next year and turn 35 in September. There isn’t really a good reason to believe he will put up almost career high numbers. Zack Cozart’s 151 wRC+ is almost 3 times what it was the last time he played 140+ games (56 in 2014). Scooter is putting up numbers he hasn’t come close to since the 69 games he played as a rookie. Even Adam Duvall is putting up a better wRC+ than the numbers would suggest.

    Looking at Fangraphs best case scenario rest of the year projections, you have:
    Votto – 152 wRC+ (-13)
    Cozart – 105 wRC+ (-46)
    Scooter – 97wRC+ (-25)
    Duvall – 103 wRC+ (-9)

    That’s a net loss of 93 runs or roughly 9 wins. Even if they make all 93 runs up with better pitching they are 20 games under 500. I think they will be better off looking for internal upgrades for the offense and using the money in free agency on pitching.

  14. its quite a gamble to assume cozart will continue anywhere near this production as he gets older. 2014 was his last full season and his ops was under .600. He’s only played three full seasons and never has his ops been .700…..the fact that he’s only played three full seasons is concerning as well. He’s completely relied on defense for value in the past and that’s definitely not getting better as he ages. I know he’s shown signs of life at the plate the past two seasons, but nothing like this season. I feel his performance this year will make him far too expensive considering the risk.

  15. I am for signing him to a “reasonable” extension. The emphasis is on the reasonable. Truthfully I don’t know what that is except that $18 million is way to much. But the truth is our big holes are starting and shortstop if Cozart leaves. Im ok with having Billy in the lineup IF he is the only weak hitter but you cannot have Hamilton and Peraza both in the lineup everyday. That means one third of your lineup is going to get on base less than 30% of the time. (And we are not even talking about the idiocy of putting them 1 and 2 in the order. Everybody except one person seems to know this). I know many think this year and the first half of last year are outliers for Cozart but I personally feel that the changes in his batting approach will help him stay at this level for a couple of years. The question still remains is his health. But that question is going to be brought up in every contract conversation he has with any team.

    • I think it’s completely possible that his swing/approach changes have helped. And that might explain a jump from a guy who was anywhere from 20-40% worse than the average hitter to someone who can be considered a league average hitter (roughly 100 wRC+). To expect someone to go from almost 500 PAs of being 20-40% worse than league average to be consistently 50% BETTER than league average at age 32 is almost unheard of.

      The poster child of offensive breakouts is typically Jose Bautista, but he was never a BAD hitter.. He was a roughly league average guy that got on base but didn’t hit for much power. Cozart was a very bad hitter. And if he has turned himself into an average hitter, that’s great. But the last time the Reds gave a middle infielder a contract extension into the wrong side of 30 after a career year, it didn’t end so well.

  16. I have the sense there’s a lot more serious discussion about this sort of thing on this site than there is in the Reds’ front office. I think the decision to sign Cozart or not sign him will be made over the course of a few days, if not hours, and I think the only real consideration will be whether they can afford his asking price. I doubt they’ve given the matter more than a passing thought at this point.

  17. A big question mark with Cozart is will he be dependable next year or beyond?

    If the Reds can afford payroll flexibility, maybe a qualifying offer isn’t an awful idea.
    – The Reds get a draft pick if Cozart turns it down, which could happen if he is looking strictly for a multi-year deal
    – There is a shorter-term risk for the Reds if Cozart gets hurt again or performs poorly; it is a more expensive deal, but is a very short-term risk.
    – Jose Peraza/Herrera get another full year to prove that they can replace Cozart.
    – Reds get another shot at potential Cozart trade if he signs QO.

    However, there are major downsides to a QO:
    – It is an expensive investment and is it worth just a draft pick?
    – It sounds like CBA may have weakened the draft pick received also.
    – Cozart, I think, would probably take the QO.
    – A trade would be harder to pull off with large money owed to Cozart.
    – Cozart and Senzel next year would leave Peraza and Herrera very little playing time.

    I would not offer the QO, but there are potential benefits of it. Mostly beneficial as a transition from Cozart to next SS. But Reds will need to go for it with Cozart – either sign him for next good Reds team or free up playing time for next SS.

    • He’s almost certainly not going to sign any deal that doesn’t have some degree of trade protection. If the Reds signed him and then almost immediately tried to move him it would have a major impact on anyone else signing with the Reds

  18. http://www.fangraphs.com/graphs.aspx?playerid=13593&legend=1,2,3,4&statArr=102,103,104,61&split=base&time=game&ymin=&ymax=&start=2017&end=2017&rtype=single&gt1=15

    I understand the argument, but do not agree with it. This would be a contract the Reds would come to regret. It is far too early to give up on Peraza. Not saying he is the solution, but the more immediate need in terms of allocating payroll is the rotation. If he is not the answer, then cross the SS bridge when you come to it and when the pitching has proved it is developed and ready to compete.

  19. If Cozart really wanted to stay a Red, and was willing to give a significant hometown discount to do it, then the Reds should sign him. I’ve thought for a while that something along the lines of 3 years, 24m range would be about the price I would be comfortable at betting against his age and injury issues. That’s probably less than half he’s worth according to WAR. The issue for me is that he hasn’t been able to stay on the field consistently for the last three seasons, and as he’s entering the age range where decline can come quickly. For those reasons I’m wary of sinking money and a lot of years into Cozart. I keep thinking about the currently money invested in Bailey and Mesoraco that’s returned virtually no value. The Reds are getting to the point that they need to allocate their money wisely.

    That said, being honest, I like the idea of him coming back for a few years to be a veteran presence with Votto. It solidifies a really solid infield of Votto, Suarez, Cozart, and Senzel probably by midseason next year. Votto and Cozart seem to have a good chemistry and the donkey bet is evidence of that. That’s a pretty enticing group to put out on the field. It kind of makes me hope they can come to some sort of agreement.

  20. Reds shouldn’t over think this. If they want a winning team, and the current offense is pretty good, they should sign Cozart for 3-4 years. I’m in favor of it.

  21. Don’t sign him. The area of biggest need is starting pitching, that’s where the money needs to go.

    There’s simply no need for another investment in the infield. Senzel has been everything the Reds could have hoped for so far. He’s only playing 3B; pretty good hint of where the Reds see him playing at the major league level. I expect to see Suarez get additional opportunities at SS this season; we got our first glimpse yesterday. There’s Gennett, Peraza, Herrera, and Blandino to pick from to cover 2B, serve in bench/utility roles, and provide depth at AAA. Shed Long is not far behind either. Unless the Reds don’t believe these guys can fill the roles outlined, the team should look elsewhere to improve.

    CF, SS and C are the most physically demanding positions. That amplifies the risk associated with Cozart’s aging curve and injury history.

    Signing Cozart would mean one of a few things:
    – inadequate infield talent was acquired in the rebuilding process
    – Cozart’s price drops so far the Reds believe they can sign and flip him mid season in 2018
    – Sentiment took over and another aging player was retained, because change is hard to manage for organizations, even when it’s inevitable and the data supports moving on

  22. There is not one free agent pitcher out there who would go to the Reds. Since they wont be signing a free agent pitcher I would sign Cozart. He should stay for 3 more seasons. I do not want Suarez or Peraza at short. it should be Cozart. Senzel should stay one more season in the minors.

  23. If the premise is that the money( say 3-4 years at $40-45M) you save by not signing Cozart is spent this off-season on a reliable SP, then I’m ok with that. The Reds can’t spend that saved money effectively in the international prospect market for another 21 months, so that’s not an option. Neither is letting Cozart walk & sending our current personnel back out there in 2018 to “sort through” again. Peraza, nor Hererra are reasons to not sign Cozart. Besides that, Cozart’s contract will probably be a bargain. All the risks of signing a FA are there, but that’s the business the Reds are in, & they need to establish. some success in doing so.

    • You raise a good point about the international pool. Clearly the Reds are being tactical about when,where,and why they spend their money and the Caribbean/ Latin American pool has been a clear focus recently.
      The depressing budget allocation I found is the buried/ injured money the Reds continue to spend on players not on the roster or injured.
      If I interpret spotrac correctly…..the reds rebuild would target 2020.

      Bronson Arroyo and Ken Griffey are making 5 million combined a year through 2021. Arroyo double -dipped. BP made 13 million this year playing for another team. Devin mesoraco makes 13 million next year. Homer Bailey makes 44 million in 2018/19.

      No wonder Billy hits leadoff. They are building his brand. They want to re-sign Cozart for similar reasons. These are familiar faces needed to sell tickets until the real rebuild starts in 2020. Signing Cozart would give the appearance of trying to win and they could adjust the numbers per year to offset the expiring contracts of mesoraco and Homer. Billy at 5 million in 2018 pays for himself with the branding they will do. Jesse Winker and Alex Blandino and a healed dilson Herrera not so inspiring to casual Reds fan…..who doesn’t know who Nick Senzel is.
      The SP is nowhere near sorted….so the reds will use 2018 as another year to expire contracts, pay bills and draft high. I hope that’s all wrong.

      http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/cincinnati-reds/

      • The Reds signed a lot of players to 2017 contracts, & some are pretty good ones. Votto is delivering his $22M salary & more.. BP is worth the $13M he was signed to for 2017 & Jay Bruce the same. Todd Frazier may be a little pricey at the $12M he’s getting for 2017 but it didn’t stop the Yankees from acquiring him. It’s the Bailey & Meseraco deals that have Reds gunshy of FA. I think Cozart’s injuries are already “cooked” into his future value & no one will offer him $50M. I’m not sure the Reds can afford to turn their backs on a bargain. It then appears that they aren’t trying. It’s likely the Reds next young really good ss may be named Rodriguez, Garcia, or Downs.

  24. Great Article! I couldn’t agree more. The big question or concern that most have, is that this is one year out of many average to below average offensive seasons for Cozart, which is understandable. Here is why that doesn’t concern me that much. Cozart has completely changed his approach, making him among the lead leaders in seeing the most pitches. That is a Votto approach, and it’s worked for Cozart this year. Guess what? It’s also been what Suarez has done, and most are really liking this guy, and expecting him to get better. Suarez will get better, but for the same reasons Cozart is likely to hit like this again, or even better. Seeing more pitches, and targeting one location.

  25. Maybe Homer Bailey can donate 2-3M of his ’16 and ’17 salaries to a Cozart extension.

  26. It’s a business. He’s now injury prone. Let him go. Move Suarez to SS, open the way for Senzel at 3B. Old School gets it. We need pitching, not an aging SS which eats up a chunk of $$$.

  27. This argument for keeping Cozart makes so much sense that it’s hard to believe that there’s an article coming tomorrow making a case for getting rid of him. Unless the SS market suddenly opens up then it would make sense to sign him to a contract extension. Even if the market opens up I’d want to keep him.

  28. I can’t help thinking signing him then trading him. For 1-2 reasons.

    First, I will say I could understand keeping him. However, I would probably lean towards letting him go. Reason? He seems to be slightly injury prone in my opinion. Only twice (including this season, at least on pace for it) has he played more than 145 games. I’d rather put a big contract towards someone a little more durable.

    Second reason? Something like what I just stated, the big contract. Similar with others, I just don’t see Cozart being around here when the Reds are winning again. Given that, why have him around and paying him that kind of money? I’d rather see what the youngsters and cheaper alternatives can do.

    Would Cozart be missed? Sure. I like the guy. But, this is a business decision. I don’t believe it’s good for business to keep him around.

    Get him signed. Then, other teams will see what they have for the future. Then, try to find a trade for him. All of this, of course, can depend upon how he finishes the year, coming off an injury recently, what we can get in a trade, etc.

    • Sign and trades arent really something that happens often in baseball. Cozart wont sign a deal without at least a limited trade protection and Cozart, his agent and his fellow players would be furious if the Reds extended him before he tested the market and then shopped him immediately. Thats the kind of stuff that can kill an organization’s reputation.

      • That still doesn’t mean that Cozart wouldn’t be a hit contract-wise, is injury-prone, and probably won’t be on the team the next time we are winners.

  29. I like this a lot. I’ve read all the comments, very good for the most part so I’ll briefly give mine.

    Re-sign Cozart and explore the trade possibilities of Peraza and some of the other log-jammed prospects. I would very much like the Reds to set their sights on winning a very winnable Central division in 2018. That seems far more likely if Cozart is re-signed than if SS is handed to Peraza.

    There is no shortage of SS prospects coming up through the system right now, starting with the guy the organization just spent $7 million signing, Alfredo Rodriguez. He can’t be more than 2-3 years away.

    So re-sign Cozart if a deal can be worked out, then go get some pitching. Use some of the prospect depth to do so and maybe sign a free agent or two. And for God’s sake, stop trading good, young and controllable players for prospects!!!!

  30. How sold is the front office on Peraza? If there is the expectation that he could grow into an everyday role, having Cozart on hand would offer Peraza a few times a week at short as a reserve there. Beyond that, I wish the front office well in sorting out second base if they keep Cozart. Suarez, Gennett, Herrera — and Peraza when not at short?

    Last offseason, I bought into the argument that the Reds should have traded Cozart for whatever he would have brought, for fear that he would get hurt and his value would plummet. So instead of he produces off-the-charts — and still keeps hurting.

    The only way I want to see the Reds keep him is if the market for him falls apart because of his injury history and he comes very inexpensively. And even then I’d probably worry more about the playing time others could be getting at short. … When Suarez slid over to short to close out the game the other day, I got very interested in what the Reds might be up to.

  31. As it always is with a player his age you are paying for what he did and not what he is going to do.Sure he could defy what is of the norm for a player his age and with his injury history but more then likely it won’t happen.In reality do you continue to play him or do you set him and audition other people because you know what you have in him.Hopefully the Reds will not continue to get caught up in what’s best for him and what’s best for the team and will talk to him openly and honestly.When you continue to showcase him and his talents you are helping him get a bigger contract then the Reds can afford while at the same time you find out nothing about a potential replacement.He is one of the guys that made us relevant a few years ago but as with BP,Bruce,Frazier and others its time to cut ties and move on in my opinion.

    • Well, they might actually be paying him for what he’s doing rather than what he did.

  32. Jeff, here is the irony of those who are preparing for the next good Reds team: if you keep getting rid of all your players that have trade value then the next great Reds team will forever be in the minors prepping for the Majors.

    I personally take a different approach. I think the Reds have the position players and hitters to win right now. What they need is a stable rotation. If Luis Castillo continues his progress… if Bailey can become a winning pitcher again… if one from Romano, Desclafani, Finnegan, and Mahle can return or develop into a quality major league pitcher… then the Reds just need to get a good pitcher through a trade or free agency. That would set the rotation which would make life easier on the relievers and up their game.

    Of course, the Reds could trade Suarez, Cozart, Gennett, Duval, Scheblet, Hamilton and look for someone to take Votto’s contract. Those trades would bring a lot of low minor league players that maybe some day could be traded for more minor league players. Maybe the Reds could field a winner again in 2042.

  33. If it was Cozart or Peraza then try to resign Zack, but that’s not the case. It could actually come down to Cozart or a Scooter platoon. Senzel and Suarez are going to play. They just don’t need Cozart for what he would cost. Spend the $ on extending Suarez and paying a starting pitcher.

  34. I would let Cozart walk and not offer an extension. This is based on his injury history. Suarez can handle shortstop for the time being and the Reds need Senzel at third with Peraza and Gennett at second and the infield backed up by Herrera and Blandino. It’s time for the Reds to move forward on all fronts.

  35. I think I would let Cozart go as a free agent after this season. The heart says sign him to a 2 year extension with a 3rd year club option, but the brain says let him go.
    Trade Schebler and Peraza to the LA Angels for SS Andrelton Simmons plus 1 other. Simmons is a better defensive SS than Cozart and Peraza combined. And better offensively than Peraza. Schebler would fill a big hole for LAA, while Simmons fills one for the Reds. Peraza takes LAA’s SS position and adds some needed speed to their lineup.
    The 2018 season could be a year to contend, if the Reds will be serious and go get a good young cost controlled SP to lead the young ones the Reds have ready in Castillo, Romano, and Stephenson. It will be hard for Bailey to lead while still coming back from injuries, and DeSclafani and Finnegan cannot lead the rotation from the DL.
    This winter will be time to Thin The Herd for the betterment of the 25-man roster.

    • Giving an $18MM Qualifying Offer to Cozart would be sheer lunacy. Not without the first round draft pick compensation tied to a QO rejection.
      The 2 year extension should be no more than $22M – $24M total for both years, or the Reds have to walk away.

  36. The guy I really would love to see the Reds get is Marcus Stroman (2.99 era). A solid groundball pitcher and he’s under contract for 2 more years. They should now have the resources to pull a Latos type trade and Toronto is in serious rebuild mode.

    They can take Cozart’s $ and get Mesoraco off the books and then extend Suarez and Stroman…or a mid-range free agent pitcher. In all reality…the Reds get outbid every time for guys like Stroman but I think Latos was a top-20 starter when the Reds got him.

    • You and Smokey The Huskey have made good observations and arguments for Stroman. I am on board with this. Stroman should be the Reds #1 target this winter. No pitcher is more suited for GABP.
      The Reds have the horses to pull off a trade for Stroman that wouldn’t hamstring the Reds or their minors like the Latos trade seemed to do. The Reds could put together a top package without trading some of their top few players. The Reds would be in a position to offer Toronto MLB ready players, or top prospects a little further away. Or a combination of both. Two in the Reds top-10 prospects and 2 more in the top-20 (#11-#20).
      It would just depend on what Toronto would be asking for, but the Reds could offer a top package without harming their Rebuild.

    • I like Stroman “The Wormkiller.”

      Suarez for Stroman deal; add sweetners on both sides if necessary. Suarez will fill a need for Jays.

  37. Jurikson Profar, SS. Don’t let emotions for Cozart dictate. Peraza to 2B full time. Senzel, 3B. Suarez for pitching.

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