The Cincinnati Reds have one of the better defensive shortstops in the game in Zack Cozart. His glove work, range and throwing arm may not garner the kind of national recognition of Andrelton Simmons, but anyone who watches Cozart play short game after game can confirm that he is a significant asset defensively at the position.
Offensively, Cozart may not be the equivalent that he is defensively, but he’s still a halfway decent hitter. His career average is .248 and he has some power, but Cozart should most likely never be anything more than a bottom of the order hitter.
For many teams (including the Reds) a shortstop like Cozart is plenty good enough. Plus, Cozart has his three years of salary arbitration eligibility ahead of him after this year, which makes him appealing from a club control perspective.
A contending team without a shortstop like Cozart would probably be willing to part with quite a bit to acquire him. A team like the Detroit Tigers, who might be persuaded to deal emerging 22-year-old shortstop Eugenio Suarez and a left-handed pitcher somewhere between top prospect Robbie Ray and the injury-plagued Casey Crosby.
But it’s not only contenders who would be interested in Cozart. His arbitration eligibility status could appeal to teams like the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, who may fall out of contention.
The White Sox may look to move Alexei Ramirez, and if so, a package from the Reds including Cozart could make a lot of sense for both teams. Likewise with the Rays, who will be more likely to deal Ben Zobrist the quicker the team falls out of playoff contention.
The Reds could do a lot worse than keeping Cozart, but dealing him might make the team better both now and next year.