3:25pm: Seattle didn’t pull off any deals, Dutton tweets, so evidently the sides were not able to line up on Cozart.
9:05am: The Mariners and Reds are closing in on a trade involving Zack Cozart, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (on Twitter). While the trade isn’t done yet, both sides are confident that a deal can be worked out, according to Dutton, who notes that talks are still fluid at this time. ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported last week that Seattle had asked the Reds about Cozart.
Cozart, 30, is one of the game’s premier defenders at shortstop and has also substantially elevated his offensive game over the past couple of seasons, hitting a combined .263/.314/.461 with 24 homers over 615 plate appearances. He’s earning a reasonable $2.925MM salary in 2016 and is controllable through the 2017 season via arbitration.
The Mariners have a young shortstop option in Ketel Marte that looked to have cemented himself at the position with a strong rookie campaign in 2015, but the 22-year-old’s bat has taken a huge step backwards in 2016. After a .283/.351/.402 slash in 247 plate appearances last year, Marte has batted a mere .273/.299/.358 in a larger sample of 300 PAs in 2016. Beyond that, Marte has missed time this season with a sprained thumb and, more recently, a bout of mononucleosis (for which he is currently on the disabled list). Adding Cozart to the fold wouldn’t necessarily preclude Marte from emerging as Seattle’s primary shortstop down the line, but it could relegate him to a utility role next year before giving him another crack at a more regular role in 2018.
From the Reds’ vantage point, moving Cozart could open up an avenue for prospect Jose Peraza to at last get regular at-bats. Cincinnati picked up Peraza in the Todd Frazier deal this offseason, but he’s played sparingly of late while spending more time on the bench than the club would presumably like for a piece that could be a long-term asset in their lineup. The 22-year-old speedster has 93 plate appearances in 33 games since being recalled from Triple-A back on June 15.