GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When the Yankees learned last week that shortstop Didi Gregorius was injured and may not return until sometime in May, the name of Reds shortstop Zack Cozart naturally was one of the first to surface as a potential replacement. However, New York decided to look internally to
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When the Yankees learned last week that shortstop Didi Gregorius was injured and may not return until sometime in May, the name of Reds shortstop Zack Cozart naturally was one of the first to surface as a potential replacement. However, New York decided to look internally to replace Gregorius.
Between Opening Day and the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31, Cozart can probably expect similar instances whenever a contending team has a shortstop need. Trying to conclude a rebuilding process, Cincinnati would eventually like to move second baseman Jose Peraza to shortstop and pair him up the middle with Dilson Herrera for the future.
Cozart, 31, will earn $5.325 million in 2017 and be a free agent after the season. The Reds pursued trades for him throughout last year but encountered a market devoid of teams needing a shortstop. They were able to move second baseman Brandon Phillips to the Braves just before camp began to open a spot for Peraza. But Cincinnati had to eat all but $1 million of the $14 million left on Phillips' contract.
In the meantime, the club is happy to have Cozart's bat in its lineup and his strong defensive presence up the middle next to the still-developing Peraza.
"He's awesome, because he's a team player," manager Bryan Price of said of Cozart in February. "He's all about winning, he's tough. He plays the game the right way. He's a student of the game. He's really a necessary piece. We're really trying to make some significant leaps this year, and I think it's hard to do that without a semblance of experience, leadership and performers."
Reds general manager Dick Williams has continually said he would be "opportunistic" about trades for any player. He demonstrated that in January when he moved pitcher Dan Straily at his peak value to the Marlins for three prospects, including starting pitcher Luis Castillo. Williams could be banking on a similar return if reliever Drew Storen can rebuild his market with a strong first half in Cincinnati. Storen, who was signed as a free agent to a one-year, $3 million contract, would receive a $500,000 assignment bonus if he is traded.
Another free agent pickup, Scott Feldman, is the Reds' scheduled Opening Day starter and working on a one-year, $2.3 million contract. Feldman was dealt from the Astros to the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline last year. Should Feldman produce better results than last season -- he could be a rotation or bullpen piece for a contending team.
And what could become of Billy Hamilton? The speedy center fielder's name surfaced briefly in some winter trade rumors. Hamilton is arbitration-eligible for two more years before free agency. If he builds off of his strong second half from 2016 into '17, he could be attractive for his speed and defense.
If the Reds feel their rebuild won't be done within the next two years, it could be prudent to see what they can get for Hamilton. But if they feel closer to contending again, Hamilton's spark would be needed at the top of Cincinnati's lineup.
Regardless, the Reds will be a team to watch when trading perks up later this year.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.