Zack Cozart is coming off a career season, setting highs in batting average, homers, runs and RBI. But saying that he set career-highs is vastly underselling how much of a surprise this was. Even accounting for his .297 average in 2017, his career average is a mere .254. He slugged .548 last year, yet maintains a career .411 mark. If the amplitude of the breakout doesn't sufficiently dissuade you of expecting a repeat, consider that he was only able to play 122 games and hasn't played in 145-plus games since 2015. This is all illustrative of why the Reds didn't tender a qualifying offer to Cozart when he became a free agent -- they were concerned that he would accept it and they would be stuck with an above-market contract. While we can't write-away last season as if it never happened, paying anywhere close to full price for it would be a grave mistake. Cozart will serve as the Angels' third baseman after signing a three-year deal in December.
Cozart went 0-for-3 with a run scored in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks. Cozart joined the Angels on a three-year, $38 million contract this past offseason as a part of their revamped lineup. The longtime shortstop is expected to take over everyday duties at the hot corner after breaking out offensively to the tune of a .297/.385/.548 slash line in 507 plate appearances with the Reds last season. Fantasy owners should be wary of the .312 BABIP he posted last year, as it is the clear outlier when looking back at his career .280 BABIP over seven major-league seasons. His .251 isolated power rating is also a far cry from his .156 career mark, and his 15.6 percent HR/FB ratio is easily the highest of his career as a starter, so a regression to 15-20 long balls as opposed to the 24 we saw him post last year is likely. That said, as long as Cozart retains his shortstop eligibility in your league, then he should stay fantasy relevant even if he fails to replicate last season's career marks.
Cozart signed a three-year, $38 million contract with the Angels on Friday. Cozart will look to follow up his All-Star campaign in a new uniform, as the Angels continue to make big splashes this winter. With Andrelton Simmons entrenched at the shortstop position, Cozart will move over to the hot corner and add to what should be a top-notch defensive infield. During the 2017 season with the Reds, Cozart hit .297/.385/.548 with 24 home runs and 63 RBI. Although it seems far-fetched to think the 32-year-old will be able to repeat his power numbers, he posted a career-best 0.79 BB/K, so there is some hope that a batting average in the .270-.280 range may be sustainable.
The Reds aren't going to offer Cozart a qualifying offer before he becomes a free agent, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports. Because it's a relatively weak market for shortstops and because of Cozart's injury history, this isn't terribly surprising. But this also means that if Cozart signs elsewhere, the Reds won't receive any compensation.
Cozart is not in Saturday's lineup against the Cubs, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. Cozart has dealt with quadriceps issues for much of the season, so it is not surprising for him to not play in back-to-back contests as the Reds play out the string. Jose Peraza is starting at shortstop and hitting seventh.
Cozart (quadriceps) is in the lineup for Friday's game against the Cubs, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports. Cozart left Wednesday's contest with quad tightness, and was subsequently held out of the lineup Thursday while recovering from the setback. He appears good to go for the final series of the 2017 season, as he will be back at shortstop and batting second in the order for Friday's matinee.