Bruce, Cozart lift Reds -- and their trade value

June 22nd, 2016

ARLINGTON -- The Reds rolled to an 8-2 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night, and it was fitting that the two hitters who have been their most consistent this season carried them, with seven RBIs. Jay Bruce drove in four runs, and Zack Cozart provided three.

Bruce hit a three-run homer in the top of the first inning. When it was a 3-2 game in the fifth, Cozart's two-run triple and run scored provided space, and his solo homer in the seventh added more of a cushion.

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"It's special," manager Bryan Price said of the seasons being enjoyed by Bruce and Cozart. "It couldn't happen to two better guys who play hard, love being Reds and really -- I think -- sell the brand as well as anybody we have as far as representing our organization."

It's also, potentially, a bittersweet irony. If they keep producing, Bruce and Cozart only enhance their trade value and the potential for their departures from a still-rebuilding Reds club.

"Me and Brucie, we're really good friends that have played together for a long time. You try not to think about it, but I check MLB Trade Rumors every day just like everybody else," Cozart said. "Today they came out with top 15 trade targets. Bruce was No. 1, and I was, like, No. 11. We look at it. We think about it. But when the game starts, you do what you can do to try and help the team win."

Bruce is batting .282/.333/.588 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs through 65 games. It's a vast improvement from the two worst seasons of his career -- he batted .222/.288/.406 over 2014-15.

Over his last 22 games, he is batting .326 with eight homers and 26 RBIs.

"I think I'm playing the most consistent baseball of my career so far," Bruce said. "I know it's only June, but what's killed me in the past is having these huge hot streaks and these really, really low cold streaks. I haven't had really either, to be honest with you."

Cozart, who underwent season-ending reconstructive surgery on his right knee just over one year ago, is batting .284/.325/.513 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs in 62 games. He leads the team in hitting and in doubles, with 18.

"I didn't necessarily expect to hit the ground running like I have this year, but to be honest with you, I'm happy to be out there healthy and out there playing," Cozart said. "The knee feels great. It's just going to keep getting better and better as I get further and further away from the surgery."

A definitive market has yet to crystallize well ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, though the White Sox just happen to need both a left-handed-hitting outfielder and shortstop.

"I think both of us have been pretty straightforward [about the fact] that we love Cincinnati," Cozart said. "We've been here forever and want to stay here. But we also know part of the business and part of the rebuilding process they want to go through [means] there could be trades."