Major League Baseball has released the qualifying offer for the 2018 season. The pricetag will be a 1-year deal at $17.4M. When a player accepts, then you get to retain the player for that season. If the player declines the offer, and signs for a deal worth $50M or more they will receive a comp pick after the 1st round. If the player declines and signs a deal worth less than $50M then they will receive a draft pick after the 2nd round. These rules don’t apply to every team, but they do for the Cincinnati Reds. That brings up the question: Do you offer Zack Cozart a 1-year deal at $17.4M?

Let’s look back at the 2017 season for Zack Cozart. It was, easily, the best year of his career. He hit .297/.385/.548 in 122 games. He had 24 doubles, seven triples and 24 home runs. Cozart missed some time due to injury, but posted 4.9 WAR according to Baseball Reference and 5.0 according to Fangraphs. It made Cozart, despite missing 40 games, one of the most valuable shortstops in the game during the year.

How did Zack Cozart, who has never had anything close to an average offensive season in a year in which he’s played more than 60 games have one of the better seasons of any shortstop in baseball? Well, he doubled his career walk rate, hit for significantly more power and had easily the best batting average on balls in play of his career.

Basically, everything that Zack Cozart did in 2017 was easily the best of his career. At least offensively. Defensively it was his worst year, statistically. With that said, he was still an above-average shortstop according to UZR. In total, it meant that he was worth $40M according to Fangraphs Dollars metric, which is based on how many wins (WAR) teams pay for in free agency versus what the players produce.

If you expect Zack Cozart to repeat his 2017, then he’d be a bargain at $17.4M. At least by terms of pay versus value provided. But, the Reds shouldn’t pay players for what they have done, but for what they are likely to do. And that begs the question: What should be expected from Cozart for 2018?

I’m not a time traveler, so I don’t know what he’ll do. But, if I had to bet, I’d bet it’ll be a lot closer to 2016 than 2017 in terms of offensive performance. The walk rate could maintain, but the power and batting average on balls in play just don’t see like things that anything else suggests were changed by anything aside from weird luck.

In 2017 Zack Cozart had a slightly lower exit velocity than he did in 2016 (86.8 in ’17 and 87.0 in ’16). His rate of 95+ MPH balls in play was slightly better in 2017 – 28.8% to 28.1%. The batted ball profile didn’t change much. His line drive rate dropped by 1%, as did his ground ball rate. His fly ball rate was up 2%. The spray chart didn’t change much, either. He traded 2% opposite field for 2% more pull. Basically, every metric we can look at suggests there was no real change. He hit the ball just as hard the year before, the types of balls that results from making contact were almost exactly the same, the places that he hit them were almost exactly the same – but the results were very, very different.

If Zack Cozart in 2018 is a lot more like Zack Cozart of 2016 instead of 2017, is he worth $17.4M for one season? Maybe. You could make that argument. Fangraphs Dollars value would say that, yes, he is. Barely, but yes. Of course, the question that should be asked is: Is that version worth that much to the 2018 Cincinnati Reds? To that, I’d say no.

Why you can’t offer the deal

The 2018 Cincinnati Reds, for as much as I’d like them to, aren’t competing for the playoffs. Not unless literally everything goes right for them. In order to get to 87 wins and be in that wild card hunt, the team would need to be at about +50 runs. In 2017 the Reds were -116 runs. That means they would need to find a way to improve by nearly 170 runs. That would require the pitching staff to lower the ERA by a full run. But, that would also mean that the offense would have to repeat itself. The offense repeating itself seems unlikely given that they got insane career years from Scooter Gennett AND Zack Cozart – neither of whom are likely to repeat those performances.

Basically, from where I’m sitting at this desk on the west side of Cincinnati, it just doesn’t make sense for the Reds to pay out that kind of money, or risk paying out that kind of money to a player who simply isn’t going to be the key to a playoff run. If the circumstances suggested he were, then the answer would be very different. But that money can probably be used better, either on the 2018 team, or saved for 2019 when the team may be better positioned to spend it on a difference maker as the team is further along.

I hope that Zack Cozart hits free agency and I hope that someone pays him handsomely. My expectation, though, is that if he gets to free agency, he gets something like three years and $40M. Not that that isn’t money I’d love to see one day, but in pro sports that’s not exactly being paid handsomely, either. It will feed plenty of donkeys, though. The risk that comes along with Cozart taking the $17.4M offer, or that he declines and gets the kind of deal I expect and leaves the team with a draft pick in the 70’s instead of the 30’s is simply too risky for me to say the Reds of 2018 should do it.

92 Responses

  1. Beard

    What is the Reds budget in 2018 and can they afford the qualifying offer? What is the opportunity cost of who you can’t go after and sign? How much worse is Peraza is 2018 than Cozart? And how valuable is that 1st or 2nd round pick if Cozart turns down the deal? Lots of factors in this math equation. There isn’t an easy answer here. Doug laid out a lot of options that help paint the picture, but I think it is close to a 50/50 call. I don’t really think you can fault the Reds too much any way. If you want to be critical, let’s talk about all the starting pitching starts that went to non-prospects rather than guts like Stephenson, Garrett, Reed, Romano, and Mahle. In those cases we are either looking at a much better idea of what they are capable of or a 100 loss season and a much higher pick. Either way it’s better than picking #5 and not having a better idea on what these guys can do. I really love what Arroyo did for the franchise. I respect Feldman’s career. And I think Adleman is gritty but who case it got us a crappy record starting them. 2017 was not a passing grade for Williams and Price. Now they did get some intel and Williams made some great moves Straily trade and Genette pickup but not forcing the younger players into action is something Price and Williams need to be held accountable for.

  2. IndyRedsFan

    No the the Qualifying Offer, and No to an extension.

    It’s time to look to the future and use 2018 to determine who the shortstop of the future is.

    • Colorado Red

      Depends of the offer to Cozart 3/36? Maybe.
      Who else plays SS?
      If Peraza you are going to lose 20+ HRs, 20+ points in BA.
      AKA, lots of runs.
      I would not offer the CQ, but wait to see what the FA market is, and then make an offer.

  3. Bill

    I think this could go either way. For the Reds to compete, their homegrown starting pitching is going to have to produce. I don’t believe they have the resources to acquire 2 or 3 free agent starting pitchers and perhaps another bullpen arm or two to make them legitimate contenders on opening day. I don’t buy the argument that one solid 200 inning pitcher gets the Reds into the playoffs as their is huge risk with any free agent pitcher in terms of potential waning performance or injury.

    Unless the Reds plan to go out an acquire another shortstop, I would make the qualifying offer. The Reds should have the payroll room to absorb the salary, but that will come at the cost of acquiring another significant free agent. Cozart brings solid defense and an excellent approach at the plate. He’s become more selective as a hitter as evidenced by his increased walks and its allowing him to maximize his hit tool. While I agree he’s unlikely to repeat 2017, I don’t see him regressing to 2016 unless he misses more than the 40 games he missed this year. That said, he’s on the wrong side of the aging curve for a long-term deal.

    If our young pitching comes through, the Reds likely have salary room to acquire another player or two at the trade deadline when they would only have to absorb about one-third of the players payroll as about two thirds of the games have been played at that point.

    • Joe

      I’m with you. I think what everyone is missing is that it’s a one-year deal, so there’s really no long-term risk if he falls down to earth. Much more risky to sign a FA starter to a long-term deal. If the young starters improve dramatically, and if Cozart has another great year, the Reds have a shot. If not, no long-term damage, and we can let Cozart walk. If 2018 is a toss anyway, we’re getting much more value, and better risk/reward, from the QO than signing a FA starter, if those are the choices. If the Reds weren’t going to spend $17.4M on anything anyway, than obviously he’s gone, but I’d say that’s just being cheap, not necessarily smart.

  4. Patrick

    I would offer the QO because he is not going to accept because this is his one best shot to get a multi-year deal. A 3 year 36 million is better than the QO.
    He is the right age for a 3 year deal since SS tend to fall apart at age 35.
    He is likely to play 120g/yr and be a 3 war per year ave player.
    Some players that were effective SS at the ages that Cozart will be that Reds fans know are A Gonzales, O Cabrara, Juan Castro, Larkin, Concepcion. You can also look at Phillips who was effective ages 32-34 with 6.8 war total. He was 1.6 this year at age 36
    Two teams that I can see signing him are the Cardinals or Pirates

    • Wes

      Lots of players were made a fool passing on qualifying offer. My bet is he’d accept

      • Jim H.

        QO is different now than then. In those cases, teams lost a draft pick. Now teams offering the QO get end of round selections. No risk to the team signing the FA. So tough to look back on history in current rules.

    • Norwood Nate

      I agree with offering the QO. There’s more risk on Cozart’s end by accepting it. He should be in line for a 3 year deal. I’ve seen estimates of 40-48 million/3 years. Even a two year deal would top the QO. He’d have to feel very confident in his health and production to leave that money on the table to stay another year with the Reds before going for a big payday.

      • CP

        Agreed. The Reds benefit no matter what by offering the QO. If he accepts, we get more time to determine what Pereza is and close the gap of other SS developing in the minors. If he declines, the Reds are in line for some draft pick compensation, and at least get something out of losing him.

  5. allthehype2001

    It is a no brainer that he gets a QO. He will not accept. He will get a much bigger guarantee from another team. The Reds will get either a draft pick if he signs elsewhere or leverage to re-sign him. And if for some reason he accepts the QO (unlikely), the Reds will get that value back on the field.

    • Hingle McCringleberry

      Not at 30+ years old and no long history of hitting. If you’re a proven hitter, maybe.

  6. The Duke

    Good arguments for both sides.

    On one side, the Reds can’t spend extra internationally, they can’t go way over the draft budget, and they are unlikely to pour a flood of money on building up infrastructure more. If the only options are see payroll stay the same this year, or roll the dice on a qualifying offer on Cozart, I’m kind of tempted to roll the dice. If he accepts it’s only a one year deal, so it’s not an albatross like the Bailey or Mesoraco contracts. And that’s just if he isn’t as good. If he is as good and accepts, perhaps there is more of a need at SS at the deadline if we aren’t in it and he brings back a prospect. Or he declines and we get that extra pick in the 70’s (while not as valuable as the pick in the 30’s, still nothing to scoff at, we drafted Jacob Heatherly at 77 this last draft).

    On the other side, it would be tacitly giving up on Peraza at SS and resigning him to a utility role, at least for the near future. Even in a year where you don’t expect to be a championship contender, it’d be a tough pill to swallow if we saw Cozart’s OBP dip below .310 where it has been every year of his career except his first year and last year. The defense will also continue to decline with age year by year.

    • mark l

      I don’t think it is giving up on Peraza. He has an option left and would have the opportunity to work on plate discipline and SS in Louisville for an extended time next year. I actually think it would be good for him if we keep Cozart.

    • Wes

      If You did it to trade him at deadline then you are basically paying 17 mil for a fringe top 10 organizational prospect. Seems like a waste of resources to me.

    • sixpacktwo

      I agree, make the QO it’s for one year and Peraza can go to AAA to refine his hitting/fielding. Win, Win.

  7. Kap

    I would for sure (even though we would probably decline). If he accepts, the reds will see that his year was not a fluke. It would make the possibility of trading Scooter for pitching help more attainable with Peraza, Blandino or Herrera sliding over to 2nd base. He is better than any other option that we have available. If he doesn’t accept, the Reds would obviously get another draft pick. Perhaps they can trade for a shortstop that would cost less (the Diamondbacks, for example, have 3 players who can lineup at short). If it becomes January or February and he is still a free agent, the Reds can get him for a discount.

    Win/win in my book.

  8. mark l

    This one perplexes me. If the Reds had an opportunity to sign a random 5 WAR player at a position of need for 1 yr, 17million, everyone would say yes and everyone else would be praising the Reds for being smart. Even if he were 32, even if you could point to a few points of regression, even if that were a career year, even if he had some injuries.

    Fact is, we do not have a good option at SS. We have a player here that we can have for minimal risk. I truly believe that if we were not so familiar with him, we would be saying it’s a steal.

    I actually think it is more likely that the Reds extend him at a much lower average salary, but 17mil, for a 5 war player with only 1 year of commitment, with no replacement in sight….. of course we do that.

    • Bubba Woo

      Well said. It would be a different situation if you had a top prospect waiting. The only SS prospects the Reds have are in High A or below right now. Sign Cozart for 3 years to bridge the gap.

    • Doug Gray

      The Reds don’t need a 5 win player for 2018. I mean, sure, they do, but they need way more than that, too.

      As I noted in the article – if the Reds had a realistic chance of competing, then it’s a very different decision. But in a situation where they aren’t realistically competing, even with Cozart repeating his 2017 season, which isn’t realistic in itself, it’s a big risk for minimal reward. The money could be better used (even if it’s not used at all in 2018) and the draft pick you likely wind up with in the 70’s is basically the equivalent of Jacob Heatherly, which, while a fine prospect, isn’t a Top 20 org prospect right now.

      • Bill

        There’s potential reward in putting a more competitive team on the field and more fans in the seats or home watching on TV. At some point, there is an opportunity cost to surrendering your season before opening day. Having lived in the St Louis area before, their fans expect a contender every year. That likely drives revenues which give the FO more options.

      • Doug Gray

        You can get a starting shortstop for less than $17.4M though. I haven’t looked, but that might make Cozart the highest paid shortstop in baseball.

      • mark l

        ya, I get it. I just think we have a chance to be above .500 next season with the team we have now and with no SS replacement, Cozart makes sense with the minimal risk.

        I also think that if Cozart will end up with 3 yr and 30 some mil with his free agent contract, that we will pay him that before the QO even matters. He wants to stay. Would you do that? Front loaded like 1yr- 14, 2yr- 12, and 3yr 10? I feel like that is more likely than the QO. IMO

      • Doug Gray

        Where do they get an extra 14 wins at if they lose Cozart? That’s an incredible amount of improvement coming with no outside help.

      • mark l

        I may not have been clear. I was meaning that we can be a .500 team with Cozart playing SS and reasonably healthy. I think Peraza starting there would end up as one of the worst players in baseball.

        I don’t have time to do the math, lol, but a full year of Castillo, Bailey, Desclafani, Mahle, Finnegan, Stephenson, and Romano getting the lion share of our innings will be a significant improvement over 2017. I also think that wherever Senzel fits in will be a boost to the team. I also think our bench will be better.

        Hopefully that makes sense.

      • Doug Gray

        I agree with your premise. The problem is, counting on a full year of Bailey/DeSclafani/Finnegan is probably a very poor bet. The Reds are in a very weird spot right now. If, and I think it’s an enormous IF, the team can get 175 innings from Bailey/DeSclafani/Finnegan, and the rest of the team stays reasonably healthy, they could push 83-85 wins with Cozart. I just think the odds of that happening are fairly small.

  9. Cguy

    The Reds need to make the QO for Cozart. Even on a public relations level, to not make the offer is to concede that the Reds won’t compete in 2018. Without Cozart, indeed they can’t compete for even a wild card slot. But it’s more than that. If Zack accepts the QO & the Reds still don’t fare well in the first half of 2018, they can again try to trade him at the deadline. If not for a prospect at least another team might pick up half that $17.4M. If he doesn’t accept the offer , then the Reds get a compensation pick. Whether it’s after the first round or after the second round, that pick will still represent one of the top 4 amateur talents the Reds can add to their organization in 2018 (unless you buy into the Ohtani myth). The only unacceptable action is exactly what the Reds intend to do in these cases-absolutely nothing.

    • Colorado Red

      which is exactly what they have done over the last year and a half

  10. Hingle McCringleberry

    Why would you offer him that money when mlb teams don’t think he’s worth that much? For someone who just started hitting at 30, you pass. Everybody argued about Brandon Phillips contract. Then what was the fuss about?

    • Hingle McCringleberry

      I also think in the end Peraza will hit and hit well. Jose altuve in his first full year of hitting hit .276 with obp of .297 so with the pop Peraza has put him in there and leave him alone. He’s young and even at his age now, is more of a polished hitter that what cozart was at this point in his career.

      • allthehype2001

        The “pop” Peraza has? Did we get another Peraza or are you talking about his dad?

  11. Colt Holt

    I give him an offer and hope he accepts. This team is not that many pieces away from competing with Cozart (starting 8 would be a playoff caliber lineup, even before Senzel arrives). This team shouldn’t get a top 5 draft pick next year. With a solid lineup, bench options, and a litany of options to convert to relievers to develop a strong bullpen, this team could be a solid rotation away. You have the possibility that those could come internally, although I would prefer, at a minimum, see a veteran starter good for 200 innings come in to provide some stability…although maybe Bailey and Disco can be that guy. The worst situation would be the pitching be there, but the hole at SS costs us games and misses the playoffs.

  12. Tony

    “Why you can’t offer the deal – The offense repeating itself seems unlikely given that they got insane career years from Scooter Gennett AND Zack Cozart – neither of whom are likely to repeat those performances.” – Doug

    This premise is just plain silly. Tell me when their careers end and I’ll tell you if 2017 were careers years for both. Players hit best when they are in their prime (a combination of age/experience) so it’s no surprise why they would be at their best in their prime. Cozart has at least 2 more prime years and Gennett has at least 5. Even if these 2 slip as Doug suggests there are plenty of reasons to believe the offense will be better in 2018 than 2017.

    I am absolutely in favor of making Cozart a qualifying offer.

    • Doug Gray

      Zack Cozart has never been a league average hitting in his entire career. This year, he was 40% better than the league average. I don’t need to wait until his career is over to say it’s a career year.

      And please, tell me why there’s reason to believe the offense will be better in 2018 than in 2017 if both Scooter Gennett and Zack Cozart regress to roughly league average or even slightly above league average bats.

      • CP

        I’m not sure it will make up the difference, but a full year of Jesse Winker, and a partial year of Nick Senzel could go a long way.

        There has been a lot of talk about regression, but progression is just as possible, as we saw last year. I would like to think that with health we could see strides forward by the likes of Schebler (30 hr power, better than avg OBP, avg or slightly better defense) and perhaps Duval’s second half doesn’t slide this year due to Winker helping give more regular rest throughout the year.

        I completely agree there is a chance to regress towards the mean, but I also think we could break even with the progress of existing/new players. (Eternally optimistic I know….)

      • Patrick Brame

        Cozart has been above average basically the last three years.
        In 2015 his RC was 106+ above average
        In 2016 Apr-Jun he was above average (He slumped at the end because of injuries only 26g played in Aug/Sep +50RC in this time frame)

        He had a 104+ RC From April 2015 until his was injured on July 31 2016

        Over the last three years when healthy he has been an above average hitter. He has showed more power iso over 170 each of the last three years. His walk rate has improved each of the last three years.

      • Doug Gray

        In 2015 he played 53 games. But, even if Zack Cozart is a 105 guy, that’s a massive drop off. I’m willing to entertain that he could be that guy. I’d bet heavily against him being anything remotely close to a 140 guy like he was this year because, well, nothing at all suggests that he actually is that kind of guy.

      • Tony

        You do need to wait because you are simply guessing. You might be right and you might be wrong time will tell.

        I define offensive prime (there are reasons for it which I won’t get into now) as
        Age 24-34
        ABs 2000+
        The Reds had 2 prime players last year and both were all stars.

        Reasons for optimism:
        Scooter is entering his prime and he was a part time player for the 1st half last year.
        Billy Hamilton will be entering his prime
        Adam Duvall is closer to his prime
        Scott Schebler is closer to his prime
        Eugenio Suarez is closer to his prime
        Tucker Barnhart is closer to his prime
        Jose Peraza will be closer to his prime
        Joey Votto will be on the fringe of his prime in what is a HOF career
        Jesse Winker will be on the big club for a full year
        Patrick Kivlehan is a baseball neophyte and showed some promise
        as a bench/part time player and I expect him to improve.
        In the unlikely event Mesoraco stays healthy he’s closer to his prime
        and has some value.

        It’s extremely rare to see so many position players ascending at the same time on one ball club. Not everyone
        will show growth next year and yes some might regress but odds are the net result will be better if this club stays together.
        There are many more reasons to believe that this club will be better offensively that worse. If you choose
        to isolate 2 negatives base on a guess then I’m glad you are writing about the Reds and not running the Reds.

      • Doug Gray

        You can have your reasons all you want, but players peak at 28-29, then decline from there. Obviously there are outliers, but offense works on a bell curve.

        And it’s not a guess. It’s a probability based on how players project, historically. I can promise you that the people making decisions in Major League front offices are using very similar things to project players that I am. They might be a little more accurate, but probably not by much. This isn’t 2005 where the public data just isn’t there and a few teams have and know things that the rest of us are just completely in the dark about when it comes to projecting player performance. No projection system is going to come out and say that Zack Cozart is going to come within 100 points of his 2017 OPS. Fangraphs touched on it earlier in the second half, and both Zack Cozart and Scooter Gennett were among the top 10 players in baseball who were seeing the most benefit from the “juiced baseball”.

        I do agree with you that this team, as constructed today, is likely to be better because they are young and guys will/should improve. But, Cozart and Gennett declining to where they should be expected to based on every last thing we know about baseball and projection, means that the Reds need pretty big improvements from someone, or for everyone to get a little bit better across the board with no declines at all, just to remain the same.

      • Tony

        Prime is a vector that consists of age and experience based on my definition and I’ve studied this for over 30 years. If you say players peak at 28-29 and don’t include their experience level then it’s not very meaningful at all. Of course the younger you gain experience the more beneficial it is because you can maximize your prime over a greater number of years and then sign with the Yankees or Red Sox because the Reds most likely won’t be able to afford you.

      • Tony

        Doug – Right except that the Reds had only 2 everyday players who were older than 29 in 2017 season and they were Cozart and Votto. Cozart by your own estimation had a career year and therefore “peaked” at 32 and Votto stated that he felt this was his best overall year ever and therefore “peaked” at 34. So it’s reasonable to say that the only 2 potential candidates that could debunk this theory in fact did. In other words 100% of potential outliers to the theory were in fact outliers. So did lightning strike twice this year in Cincinnati or is this a ridiculously flawed theory?

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t even know how to respond to this. You can keep hitting in blackjack on 18 because you got a 2 and a 3 once. I’ll play the odds and hold on 18.

  13. Wes

    there’s been plenty of players in recent years who regretted not taking the qualifying offer. I don’t see cozart passing on that kind of money. 3.5X his best year earnings. Hard to walk away from that. A pick at 70 is roughly a top 10 organizational prospect and that was the asking price no one paid at trade deadline- but now some one is going to trade that and 40 million?!?

    So if he takes the QO- Then u have too many infielders ready to play MLB ball. That’s a problem and not a good one imo. So you need to unload a player. I don’t see scooter having enough value on trade market to unload and peraza you’d be selling low so that leaves Suarez which imo is our best fielding trade asset. If Suarez can be a main component of upgrading sp/cf/ss then that’s a big win for organization. If it’s cf/sp then there’s room for cozart but that won’t happen before qualifying offer is due so you have to pass and wait.

    Cozart may slip through cracks and come back to cincy on a 1 year 15 mil at some point in off season. From what I hear Arizona is maxed due to grienke making 30 mil and Baltimore just got done over paying a mid 30 ss. There’s not a huge market for him which may allow him to be available late free agency for a hometown discount. That’s where I’d put my money if I’m management.

    • Colt Holt

      What infielders are ready to be starters on a competitive team? I see Suarez, Gennett, and Votto. Based on what happened in 2017, Pereza has not earned a starting job on a team with aspirations of competing. Whether it feels like the time or not…I would be shocked if Bob C weren’t planning to compete in 2018.

      You are saying you don’t offer a $17.4 Million, with draft pick attachment in hopes he comes back in Feb/Mar on a deal $2 Million lower….am I reading that right? If you believe he is worth a FA deal of 1/$15 to the Reds, how could you not offer QO?

    • Colorado Red

      The big difference is the rule for the CQ.
      It does not cost the signing team a #1 anymore. That was the big issue.
      For Cozart he is expected to be in the 30/40 range.
      I would rather 40 guaranteed, the 17.4. Especially at his age.

    • Wes

      @colt I agree w you on peraza but the way it seems to me is reds are completely comfortable handing the reigns to peraza and that’s their plan.

      And what I’m saying is you only sign him if u move a guy. You forgot senzel being ready for MLB mid season. That’s 6 guys for 4 spots. Gotta move a guy for cozart to come back. It’s not about 2 mil.

      @cr the change in rule won’t impact cozart taking offer or not. And there’s not going to be 40 mill sitting on table if he passes on qo. It’s a calculated risk to pass on virtually doubling your lifetime income in hope someone offers more. With the lack of market I’m taking the qo if I’m cozart

  14. Billy

    I think this is a tough call. From my perspective, signing Cozart to the QO is at least fair value, so I don’t really see “the risk” of him accepting the offer as being about him under-performing the contract. And if he turns it down and you get a draft pick, that’s fine.

    The reason this is a tough call to me is because of roster construction. Someone has to play SS, and Cozart is the obvious call if he’s here. If he’s playing SS this year though, how are we identifying the SS of the future? Peraza needs a chance to show us if he’s the guy. You’ve also got Hererra and Gennett competing with Peraza at 2B. Plus, when Senzel gets the call, you’ll have Suarez or Senzel one needing a new position to play.

    I want the team to be competitive this season. Whether they are or not will be determined by how much the pitching improves. Having Cozart at SS may help a young pitching staff develop. At the same time, if he’s having a good year and the team is winning, you can’t trade him for future assets, and you have one less position to be flexible with when it is time to work Senzel into the lineup.

    To me, the answer depends on how you intend to solve the 3B issues with Suarez and Senzel. If you are moving Suarez to SS, then I think you may have to turn down the QO. If you are moving Suarez or Senzel to 2B, then I think you roll the dice on the QO and be happy with whatever Cozart decides. I think you make a decision about how you want to resolve the 3B issue immediately (if we haven’t waited too late already), and let the Cozart decision flow from that.

    • sixpacktwo

      You move Suarez to 3nd in a couple of years. We only control Gennett for two more years and Hererra (If healthy/no options)
      spot starts and bench. I like Duvall but we have left field players, so we trade him for a SP.

  15. MK

    Cozart will be 33 in 2018 has not played an injury free or complete season since 2014, and the stats show he is declining defensively. It would be difficult for me to see anyone offering a three year contract to him unless they were planning for him to change positions. He would probably take the qualifying offer which is nearly half of what he MIGHT get for 3 years. They need to stick to the rebuild plan which had the goal being Peraza and Herrera up the middle. Herrera is out of options and will either be on the 25-man or on the DL. So, I would not gamble and give him the QO.

    • Wes

      Spot on. There’s no hard cap in MLB. Save your reserves for when your ready to compete

  16. Brad

    1) No Qualifying Offer

    2) Yes Extension. Something like 3 years, 27M, 3rd year is a team option with 1.5M buyout. Dick Williams is a smart guy, with a strong investment background. His ideology is based on value. I am sure he has a number of what Cozart is worth to the Reds and another of what he is worth to a contending franchise. As long as he stays at or below the value number for the Reds, big win for the franchise.

    Cozart’s market is an unstable one. Offering the QO will surely lead to him accepting it. What teams need SS? Marlins? Royals? I would greatly prefer to have Luiz Gohara in system over Cozart at this point but it would be foolish of Reds to allow Cozart to leave for nothing. Pay him. Could lead to other players become tradeable, add depth, leadership, etc.

    • Brad

      Additionally, I prefer Cozart at 9M AAV vs Gennett at 6.1M (arbitration estimate for 2018). Could allow team to flip Gennett. Here is hoping for another Luis Castillo situation!

    • Colorado Red

      That Extension is NOT going to happen.
      He will get 3/36 – 40. Not 27.
      If he did, no one would hire his agent again.

      • Brad

        What team or teams do you think would offer Cozart 3 years at 12+M per year?

        Only teams I see that need SS are:
        Arizona – may prefer, Ahmed, Owings or Marte
        Royals- not contending
        Marlins – not contending/cutting payroll
        Padres – not contending

        From what I can tell, every other team has a SS under contract or a top prospect knocking on the door. As long as Reds do not negotiate against themselves, 3 years for 27M will be a strong offer.

    • victor vollhardt

      I love Cozart—he is great on and off the field and from all reports is a mentor to many of the young players. When he plays any pitcher on the staff becomes better because of his defense. ——–Given his career history, age, and injures to his legs—there is NO way that I would give the QO.————–That said (and I think BRAD is pretty well right on) the Reds should offer a three year deal for somewhere between 27 and 33 million. (9m to 11m per year) This would be good for the player and very good for the Reds going forward, even if over time of the contract he would have to be “rested” (a smart idea period) from time to time.

  17. sultanofswaff

    Great arguments all around. I don’t think Peraza will ever hit, so my course of action would be:
    make the QO (as he would likely pass on it)
    wait to see how his market develops
    explore all trade options in the meantime

    My #1 target would be Ketel Marte. He’s what a real SS prospect looks like. We have redundant assets who will be blocked at the major league level and should be leveraged for immediate help. The snakes used Gregor Blanco in LF and need to upgrade. I’d trade them Duvall and a prospect in the 7-15 range (i.e. Shed Long/Vlad Gutierrez) to make it happen.

    • Hingle McCringleberry

      perazza hit the cover off the ball last season not this season so the league adjusted. He’ll adjust like suarez did. Like i said on another post Jose altuve was less than average in his first full year.

  18. wes

    In case y’all forgot….

    There was a trade that fell through that would have sent Chapman to Dodgers before the DV instance came about. They never mentioned the return but its obvious that was Peraza by the way the Reds continued to pursue him and got him via 3 way with White Sox. The Reds, like it or not, have aquired Peraza to become the ss of the future. Peraza, 23, is younger than Winker, Ervin, Blandino, and Aquino and he has earned his stripes at MLB level. He’s going to get his chance. Kinda crazy to give up the guy…

    • Doug Gray

      Not that I’m making the argument that Peraza can’t be the guy, but if the Reds are of the belief that he can’t be, then I don’t care if they tried trading for him 50 times, they shouldn’t just double down because they acquired him for that purpose.

      If the Reds don’t think Peraza can be that guy, they need to look elsewhere. Free agency is an option if they need it to be.

      • wes

        I think the fact that we didn’t see Suarez at short at all down the stretch solidifies that they are going with Peraza.

        Good convo today!

      • Hingle McCringleberry

        You know, if they waited 50 years for cozart to hit, they can wait on perazza. Great speed, great gap power, and can play almost everywhere. The league adjusted. He’ll adjust. He’ll be fine.

  19. MikeinSoCal

    Instead of doubling down, to me it looks like the Reds are kind of giving up as far as Peraza at SS is concerned. His value is at SS but I don’t think the Reds still feel that way.

  20. Scott C

    As much as I hate it, paying Mozart over 17 million for one year is not worth it. I doubt if he finds the deal in free agency. I hoe the he gets a good deal and finishes out a good career. I would be in favor of signing him for a two or three year deal but it would have to be at around the 30 million area.

  21. PAtMC

    I like the idea of qualifying offer especially if the Reds aren’t going to be especially aggressive in free agency this year (which I wouldn’t expect them to be). It’s a one year deal so there’s no real long term risk in tying up money down the road. And IF eveything goes perfectly, I’d rather have Cozy at short than any of our other internal options. If not everything goes perfect, we try to trade him again. This time, with (hopefully) another full year of elite production to add to his track record.
    If he declines the offer, regardless of whether he lands a deal greater than or less than USD 50 million, than at least it wasn’t all for naught.

  22. KyWilson

    No. It time to see if Peraza is an every day SS or if they need to find one. Next year is still a rebuilding year, Cozart has no part in that rebuild. Hamilton needs to be a bench piece as well. If healthy, Herrera, Peraza, Winker, and Ervin need to see plenty of PT. Duvall is a bench bat, Hamilton is a defensive replacement, and Cozart shouldnt be around. I respect Cozart and hope someone signs him to a contract on a team that is in contention.

  23. Case

    I’d give Cozart the QO. I really appreciate Dougs article on this subject. It really is a coin flip of a decision. If that is the case then I take the option that leaves me with an asset. If he declines we get a draft pick, which is better than nothing in my opinion. If he accepts then we have a legit SS, we suck again and you can possibly trade him. It’s a very interesting decision the front office will have to make. Thanks again Doug.

  24. The Duke

    While I do think the offense regresses a bit, I think the offset of a full year of Winker and bringing Senzel up will offset that a bit. I think Blandino can become a valuable bench bat/utility player as well. He can backup Peraza, Senzel, and Suarez. Give a competent at bat as a pinch hitter and he’s shown a very good understanding of the strikezone. Blandino’s another one I could see doing better at the MLB level than he did in the minors.

    And I legitimately could see the pitching being a full run better than last season. A full year of Luis Castillo, Sal Romano and Robert Stephenson both showed tremendous progress over the last 2 months, we can maybe hopefully please get one of Disco or Finnegan back for a full year, and Homer was able to get his legs under him and is hopefully healthy going into 2018. Bailey had some bad games, but he flashed his 2014 form some as well.

    • Joe

      Agreed. I don’t think a competitive 2018 is as implausible as people are making it out to be. I think the only thing that kills the Reds as an organization is another bad LTC, be it given to Cozart or a middling FA starter. So, I think one year of Cozart is the best value play for the Reds, and if he passes, take the pick and move on. I wouldn’t worry about an IF logjam — if you’re main concern is Jose Peraza not getting enough ABs, you’re thinking about this the wrong way.

    • William Kubas

      The Duke
      October 13, 2017

      “I think Blandino can become a valuable bench bat/utility player as well. He can backup Peraza, Senzel, and Suarez. Give a competent at bat as a pinch hitter and he’s shown a very good understanding of the strikezone. Blandino’s another one I could see doing better at the MLB level than he did in the minors.”

      As a fact, the Reds organization rate former Stanford Cardinal, Alex Blandino as behind Zach Vincej as a short stop and Brandon Dixon as a second baseman based on the September call-up. That is a fact, no thinking about it.

      I believe Blandino only pinch-hit once …….”Former Stanford Cardinal, Alex Blandino, pinch hits in the 7th inning with a pop out and his on base percentage falls to .394 since joining Louisville Bats”

      I agree Blandino does show a command of the strike zone….”August 30, 2017…….Former Stanford Cardinal, Alex Blandino raises his on base percentage to .392 with his 29th and 30th base on balls in 205 plate appearances since joining the Louisville Bats.”

      Your thought that former Stanford Cardinal, Alex Blandino would be a better MLB player than minor league player is initiated with the incorrect use of the apostrophe s indicating possession. The Reds organization would not agree with your thought as only Zach Vincej and Brandon Dixon were called up to the Major League team. Based on fact. Former Stanford Cardinal, Alex Blandino is not on the Reds 40 man roster indicating an inability to perform at a major league level.

      • Doug Gray

        Neither of those things are facts at all. They are your assumptions. And I can argue, rather easily, as to why they would call up someone like Vincej over Blandino despite NOT feeling better about him as a shortstop (though, I do think as an everyday shortstop they’d lean Vincej because of the defense).

        Also, Brandon Dixon was not called up at all.

  25. greg niemeyer

    So – it is not my money, but I would offer the 3-36. If he takes it great, if not I say thank you and good-bye.
    Here is the rationale…
    Value and Projected Performance – Everything starts with projection. How does any decision maker project the player will perform over a given period. Personally, I’ll bet the over on 10+ WAR from Cozart over the next 3 years – I say 4, 3, 3.
    A fixed part of that comes from consistent defense.
    Two things greatly improved this year – 1) his plate approach and 2) his power.
    I think the power will regress back to career norms but the approach should be here to stay.
    2 of these 3 dimensions should age well – the defense and the approach.
    I say the defense because he relies more on technique and less on explosive athleticism. Also, that defensive consistency is even more valuable to a younger pitching staff.
    So, assuming the decision maker – in this case me – shares that projection – then they will assume that he has value even in year 3 – 2020.
    And 3 years of control at a reasonable price would ensure trade value remains intact as well, especially in years 1 and 2.

    Competitive Window: Yes – 2018 may be stretch with so many rotoation pieces in question, but I believe they will be ready in 2019 and 2020. And I think ZC will still be a 3+ WAR player through 2020.

    Other options: Peraza…No power and poor approach are a killer combo. It is hard to generate value with that profile, unless you can replicate Dee Gordon’s .370 BABIP profile. And defensively, he is still below average at SS, which as stated above would be a detriment to a young staff. I see Peraza as more of a utility man not a starter on a first division club. There is a reason a lot of evaluators had begun to drop Peraza in their rankings.
    And there isn’t a great SS prospect on the immediate horizon.
    This lets Downs, Rodriguez etc marinate a while longer.

    Opportunity cost: Again, just my own opinion – but I see better immediate options at SP than at SS. They may not be ready for Prime time in 2018, but by 2019 this should be settled.

    Again – not my budget – but this is where I would spend – if I were to spend.

    What do you think?

    • victor vollhardt

      To Greg Niemeyer—I think you covered it pretty well and I agree with most all of it. An Aside :Do you remember Ed Kennedy”s sign off —“that”s my opinion-What”s yours?

  26. MK

    Is this an organization that can afford $22million for a starting shortstop? As Cozart has played in 75% of the games the last two years and didn’t start all of those it means another $4 or $5 million for a shortstop for the other 25%.

    • wes

      It’s 17+ million. Glad to see a lot of well thought out comments, but not very many people understand how much money that actually is and how much strain that puts on long term financial plans. Reds have no where close to an unlimited budget. Reality is that Cozart is noT in their future plans or reds asking price would have been much higher than a fringe top 10 prospect which they didn’t get. And if he is in their plans- its the same old reds willing to dish out bad contracts to players other teams are suspect about.

  27. Michael B. Green

    I need to catch up on everyone’s commentary but making Cozart a QO will do one of two (2) things:

    A. End up with Cozart declining the QO – and landing CIN a supplemental pick; or
    B. End up with Cozart on a one-year deal for 2018.

    Item A is a real possibility. With baseball players receiving guaranteed contracts, Cozart has earned the right to test free agency and try to ink a deal likely in the 3-4 year range. That takes care of his family. Signing a QO, adds risk to Cozart and his family as a severe injury jeopardizes what is otherwise guaranteed for an additional 2-3 years.

    CIN undoubtedly fielded offers for Cozart the past two (2) years and has decided that a supplemental pick is better than the offers received.

    Item B allows CIN to try yet again to deal Cozart at the Trade Deadline. IMO though, that delays the true rebuilding process for CIN. Cozart is a 1st division SS and CIN is not a 1st division team yet.

    The money is there. Some team should definitely want to ink Cozart to a 3-year $40M+ deal. If not, Cozart will hit right in front of Joey and continue hitting fastballs with authority.

    For this starving Reds fan though, I hope that CIN ends up with a quality draft pick. Trammell and Fairchild are perfect examples of what that looks like (ok Fairchild was not a supplemental 2nd rounder).

    • Doug Gray

      I guess the issue is, you only get a “Trammell/Fairchild” spot if someone pays $50+M for Cozart. Otherwise, you’re looking at a spot in the draft where you are grabbing someone who is very likely to be outside of your Top 20-25 prospects at the end of 2018.

  28. Arnold Ziffle

    If you have Cozart on the 25-man roster on a one year deal (QO), that will make the trade deadline more interesting than t should be. The Reds will have a third chance to trade Cozart at the deadline, if healthy. They also will have a chance to trade Mesoraco at the deadline if healthy. Would that be unwelcome drama? Drama that could distract.
    One year of Cozart at $17.4M is too expensive. If the Reds are stupid enough to offer it, Cozart should jump at the chance ad sign it. He will NEVER make that in one season again. He could still get a multi-year deal the following year. The Reds should not even have any considerations of a 2nd/3rd round sandwich draft pick. It just isn’t worth all the wrangling. Any return on a trade next year would not be great, plus you’d have to pay Cozart about $11M of that $17.4M QO deal up to the deadline. Jay Bruce technically had 1 1/3 years left when traded (option year Mets picked up) and all the Reds got for him was two bum shoulders. What would you expect the Reds to get for a rental Cozart? And you have to pay him that $11M. Just not worth all the hoop jumping the Reds would have to go through to get to that trade return. That is IF Cozart would stay healthy, a big “if”.
    LET COZART WALK !!!!
    However, I have this sinking feeling that the Reds are going to have, and are planning on having, both Cozart and Gennett on the 2018 25-man roster.

    • Colorado Red

      DW will not trade Cozart in mid-seasion.
      He is afraid to do it.
      Or just asks too much.

  29. Joe

    If you go with Peraza at SS, you got to improve your obp at least one other position. You cannot have a CF, LF, SS, P and some days a B/UP C in your lineup that is .300 or below and expect to contend.

    I know Winker and Senzel will improve the Obp but you still have BHam, Duvall, And Peraza getting meaningful at bats. Schebler and Gennett are not guarantees either.

    This all makes Cozart very desirable to us but who else? There is not much competition out there right now for him. I think the qualifying offer is too much.

  30. Shawn

    I would not give him a QO. Even if he turns it down, which is not a given, I don’t think he will get 50 million. I would offer him 3 years at 33-36 Mil. If he accepts I would trade Scooter and Duval and upgrade the outfield. I wouldn’t sign any Pitchers till the All Star break next year. Need to wait to see how injured pitchers and the young guys work out.

  31. Greenfield Red

    I really like ZC, but I don’t want the Reds to tie up a bunch of money in him they could use someplace else. If by January he hasn’t landed, make an offer of 3/21, that comes with no guarantee of playing time, and throw in a no trade if he needs it.

    I don’t see where these 3/36 type of offers are going to come from. The Reds couldn’t trade him in the last two summers when his pay was way less than even the 3/21 rate and they were asking for descent but not great prospects for him. I don’t see the market for him.

    I would much rather they had thrown that $21 mil at more young international talent (in the 2016 – 2017 period), that in some cases was linked to the Reds, than throwing this “bargain bin” money at ZC. Even with penalties, they could have signed 2 to 3 more youngsters for that money.

    As I continue to beat that dead horse, I ask the question: where is the talent going to come from to make the Reds a World Series contender?

    • Cguy

      The obvious answer to your question GR is the (somewhat distant) future, because that level of talent is not currently in the organization. Additionally, the Reds are effectively banned from the “top end” of the international prospect market for another year & a half. Small-market constraints keep them from signing the best free agents, and spendthrift management is hesitant to invest in veteran players they can afford. My advice would be: A) Sign Cozart to the QO (if he accepts), play to compete in the 1st half of 2018. If successful, augment the roster at the trading deadline & make a run at a wildcard spot. B) Trade Iglesias, Hamilton, & Gennett this winter. Save about $14MM in 2018, possibly $30MM more in 2019. Restock the prospect list with those trades & let the kids play in 2018 (Peraza, Hererra, Blandino, Senzel, Winker, Ervin, & all the young arms). Hope for another 94+ loss season . Then in 2019 the Reds will have a top 1st round pick, plus another CBA pick and unrestrained access to the international amateur market. Bleak but possibly effective.

  32. sixpacktwo

    I’m convinced, NO you do not spend the 17.4. I said yes before because I wanted Peraza at AAA to refine his skills and I do not think he will/can do that in Cincinnati. I would try to bring Cozart back on a 2/3 year fair to Cincinnati contract. If Cozart would come back then Peraza could be a super sub for a year or two. We can, but need a few things to fall right, be a competitive team next year.