MLB Trade Rumors dove headfirst into the Zack Cozart trade market this morning, with Jeff Todd exploring the potential landings spots for the current Cincinnati Reds shortstop should the team ultimately choose to shop him. And, of course, it's more than likely they'll shop him, given his age, contract status, the current state of the rebuild, and the presence of several intriguing potential replacements already in the Reds' system.
The problem, though, is that there isn't really a pure fit for Cozart with any other team at the moment, as a combination of emerging prospects, large contracts, and players underperforming despite solid track records has put the SS market in a bit of a goop. On paper, the two best fits may be the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox, yet both find themselves at just 38-38 on the season and in 3rd place in their respective divisions, and in Ketel Marte and Tim Anderson boast young shortstops with ample upside. The Royals, on the other hand, may initially appear to have a bit of a need for Cozart, but Alcides Escobar isn't performing significantly different this year (.258/.281/.314) than he did last year (.257/.293/.320), the same year in which he hit leadoff for them almost 90% of the time in a Gold Glove and World Series winning year.
All told, I generally agree with Todd's assessment of both Cozart's value and the teams that might have interest. What the Reds do have in their favor is Cozart's super cheap $3 million salary for this year, meaning that if they choose to hold on to him until, say, this offseason, they won't be footing a huge bill over the season's final months in doing so. That buys them time, of course, but also brings in the possibility of an offensive slide akin to those of Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce just last year, slumps that were extremely debilitating to their overall value.
Of course, injuries just might open plenty of new doors in this conversation, much in the same way Cozart's injury last year altered the course of his career. David Wright's neck injury in New York helped pave the way for a Jose Reyes reunion with the Mets, much like Andre Ethier's continued leg issue has seen Bruce's name pop up as a potential target for the Dodgers. Rest assured, the Reds are watching endlessly, and they're more than ready to sell and sell often.
Just 33 days 'til the trade deadline.
In other news, The Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans caught up with Bruce and Cozart to talk about their chances of making the All Star team this year, and he also looked into Adam Duvall's case. Rosecrans acknowledged that the Reds will likely only send one representative to San Diego this year largely due to their presence at the bottom of the standings, but that each of the three has pretty rock-solid numbers for consideration regardless.
Joey Votto belted a pair of dingers last night, so it's prime time to cherry pick some selective endpoints and talk about his stats. So, Imma gonna do that. Since breaking his career-worst 0 for 19 streak on April 22nd, Votto owns a .912 OPS in 248 PA (.270/.407/.505), with 162 game averages extrapolating to 33 dingers, 88 ribbies, 116 walks, and 176 strikeouts. Yep, the average is still a bit below what you'd expect from Votto, and the strikeout rate is still at a career high, that's not what is most interesting to me. At 32 years old, he's posting the highest hard-hit percentage of his career (43.5%) by a clear margin, and it is coinciding with a second consecutive year of resurgent HR/FB%. In fact, the 23.5% HR/FB Votto owns at the moment sits both well above his career mark (19.0%) and ranks second only in his career to 2010's 25.0% - the year he hit a career best 37 dingers. Almost every statistic Votto owns this year has been odd relative to his norm in some aspect, but I just get the feeling that by the end of September that will have all ironed out in typical, amazing Joey Votto fashion.
Finally - and because finding perfect segues is the Red Reporter way - Dave Cameron looked at the historically ignonimous Cincinnati pitching staff, and how they've become the poster boys of how league-wide HR/FB% has spiked in a big, big way. The gist: Reds pitchers are allowing dingers at an all-time record pace, while batters across the game are also hitting dingers more frequently than at any point since the dinger-donking days of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa. Dang!