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Zack Cozart Rumors
The trust that Jon Lester has in Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer from their days together in Boston is singled out by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan as the key reason why the lefty chose Wrigley Field as his next home. Here’s some news from around the NL Central…
- The Pirates were one of the finalists for Brandon McCarthy, MLB.com’s Tom Singer writes. The Bucs weren’t known to be connected to McCarthy in the offseason rumor mill, though they fit as a logical contender for his services. Even with Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett signed, Singer thinks the Pirates could still look to add starting pitching, such as re-signing Edinson Volquez.
- Other teams feel that the Reds will look to trade Zack Cozart now that they’ve acquired Eugenio Suarez, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link).
- With Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon respectively traded to the Marlins and Tigers, Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) that the team can start to explore other upgrades now that they’ve addressed their payroll concerns. “We’re in a better position to start looking at some other possibilities to improve our club — the hitter we’re looking for and some bullpen depth,” Jocketty said. “We’re close to where we need to be, [payroll-wise]. Now we can concentrate on filling some of the needs.”
- In an Insider-only post, ESPN’s Keith Law looks at the Reds‘ two pitching trades and feels the team got more from Detroit than they did from Miami. Law thinks Suarez is an improvement over Cozart and Jonathon Crawford could potentially be the Reds’ closer of the future.
- Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo are two of several prominent Brewers entering the last year of their contracts, and MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy opines that the Crew could explore trading the two starters if they think Mike Fiers or Jimmy Nelson can be viable rotation options.
The Orioles are in Boston for a wraparound series with the Red Sox culminating tomorrow on Patriots' Day. Mike Seal, the agent for J.J. Hardy is in Boston this weekend, but the Orioles shortstop says it's not for extension talks. "He's here because his wife is running in the marathon, so he came out for this series to watch his wife run," Hardy told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. "There's been nothing. My agent's here now and he hasn't said anything to me the last month or so. There's been no contact. Usually, he gives me the 'still nothing.' I think it's even past that now to where it's like, he doesn't even need to tell me."
Elsewhere around baseball this Easter Sunday:
- Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski couldn't wait any longer to see if Alex Gonzalez would turn things around, writes Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press.
- A reader asked John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) if there's any chance the Reds might go after Gonzalez in light of Zack Cozart's struggles. That's doubtful, in Fay's mind, because Gonzalez doesn't offer much range at the shortstop position. Fay, in a second tweet, also doesn't see the Reds signing Joel Hanrahan.
- In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe speculates, after impressing teams in his latest audition, Hanrahan could hold out for a Major League contract. The veteran worked out for 18 clubs and impressed with the depth of his secondary pitches.
- There's no guarantee Ike Davis will see another 32-home run season with the Pirates; but, if it happens, the Mets will be reminded about it frequently, writes David Lennon of Newsday. However, the Mets finally decided on a course of action rather than have uncertainty at first and they must be prepared to live with the fallout.
- Davis is eager to play more often as a member of the Pirates, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It was pretty negative over there [with the Mets] for me for a little while," Davis said. "Hopefully, I can come here and hear some positive energy and start building forward and start playing better."
- Did the Indians make a mistake by not keeping Aaron Harang? The veteran pitched seven hitless innings for the Braves on Friday, but Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer defends the Tribe's decision. The 36-year-old, he notes, didn't set the world on fire last season and his release allowed the Indians to see what Carlos Carrasco can offer as a starter.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty spoke to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer about some of the free agent names connected to his club this winter…
- The Reds' first priority is trying to find a leadoff hitter, though Jocketty said that Michael Bourn is too expensive for his club and the same could be true about Angel Pagan. Jocketty said that the team hasn't contacted Pagan yet and "not that we wouldn’t but I wonder about the money.”
- Jocketty confirmed that the Reds have talked to Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Madson about returning to Cincinnati, while the team has also spoke to free agent Joakim Soria. Broxton is the only one of the trio who would be able to pitch on Opening Day, as Madson and Soria are both recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Reds are likely one of the eight contenders who Soria's agent, Oscar Suarez, says has shown interest in his client.
- The Reds talked to Torii Hunter's agent "but the money was too much," Jocketty said. The general manager doubted that Hunter's two-year, $26MM contract with the Tigers would impact Ryan Ludwick's price since "they're different kind(s) of players." The Reds have had "preliminary" talks with Ludwick about a new deal.
- Jocketty told FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi last week that the Reds could deal one of their shortstops (Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius) if the right deal came along, but Jocketty said that neither player is being shopped. "We’re not taking offers,” Jocketty said. “That gets out and then we have to call Cozart and call Didi.”
- The Reds have no plans to extend Jay Bruce's contract. "We control him for five more years,” Jocketty said. “It’s so far off. It’s something we haven’t talked about.” Matt Sosnick, Bruce's agent, raised the possibility of an extension beyond 2016 for his client earlier today.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that Cincinnati could move one of their young shortstops (Zack Cozart or Didi Gregorius) if such a deal could bring the Reds a closer or a leadoff-hitting outfielder.
“It depends if we get back what we need,” Jocketty said. “If we don’t, then I won’t mind holding onto them.”
Cozart was the Reds' everyday shortstop in 2012, hitting .246/.288/.399 in an even 600 plate appearances and showing above-average glovework (a +9.0 UZR/150) in his first full Major League season. The 27-year-old Cozart was ranked as the 75th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America before the season, though he may have already been replaced by a newer model, as Jocketty considers the 22-year-old Gregorius to be "an everyday player…It’s just a question of when and how we manage it." Gregorius, a native of Amsterdam, has a .699 OPS in five minor league seasons.
If this surplus of controllable young shortstops wasn't enough, the Reds also have stolen base king Billy Hamilton, who Morosi notes was converted to center field last year. While Hamilton would command a much larger return in a trade than Cozart or Gregorius, I'd imagine Hamilton is next to untouchable.
The Reds are known to be looking for a leadoff hitter and an outfielder (preferably a player who can fill both roles), as well as closing depth in case the team moves Aroldis Chapman to the rotation. Morosi suggests the A's as a trade partner since they have both Coco Crisp and several good relievers, and also notes that the Reds could find a leadoff-hitting outfielder from shortstop-needy teams like the Twins or Diamondbacks.