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Zack Cozart Rumors
Reds shortstop Zack Cozart suffered torn ligaments and a torn biceps tendon in his right knee and will undergo surgery to repair the tendon on Monday, the team announced (Twitter link). C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets that Cozart tore both the ACL and LCL in his knee. The recovery time is an estimated nine months, meaning Cozart will be out for the remainder of the year.
Cozart, 29, injured the knee when stretching in an attempt to beat out an infield single. His right leg slipped off the back of the base, causing him to fall to the ground and immediately clutch his knee in obvious pain (video link, though some may prefer not to watch).
The injury will bring to an end what has been, to date, the finest season of Cozart’s career. The former second-round pick has long been regarded as one of the game’s better defenders at shortstop, but his offensive output slipped in 2012, 2013 and 2014 after a solid rookie campaign. That changed in 2015, as Cozart has batted an very solid .258/.310/.459 with nine homers through just 214 plate appearances. Though his season will come to an end, Cozart figures to remain a part of the Reds’ future plans. He’s controllable through the 2017 season via arbitration, though obviously the injury will hamper his arbitration earnings this winter. Nonetheless, with a reasonable $2.35MM base salary in 2015, the Reds certainly figure to tender him a contract for the 2016 season.
Cozart’s unfortunate situation creates a window of opportunity for Triple-A shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who has been recalled from Triple-A. Acquired from the Tigers along with hard-throwing righty Jonathon Crawford in exchange for Alfredo Simon this offseason, the 23-year-old has a strong track record at the Triple-A level, where he has authored a .264/.358/.455 batting line with 10 homers in 69 games. Suarez saw a good bit of action in the Major Leagues in 2014 with Jose Iglesias sidelined, and he held his own for a 22-year-old, hitting .242/.316/.336. He’ll likely step in as the everyday shortstop in Cozart’s stead.
Losing Cozart for the year is another blow for a Reds team that has seen Marlon Byrd suffer a fractured wrist and Devin Mesoraco miss nearly the entire season thus far due to a hip impingement. Homer Bailey, too, will miss nearly the entire year due to Tommy John surgery. Many expect Cincinnati to become trade deadline sellers, and the loss of an elite defensive shortstop that has been one of the club’s best hitters as well certainly doesn’t improve their odds of remaining in contention.
The Yankees today placed closer Andrew Miller on the disabled list with a strained left flexor mass. Manager Joe Girardi told reporters, including the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron, that an MRI on Wednesday morning revealed the injury. Miller will not throw for the next 10 to 14 days, and he will be re-evaluated after that time. Though the Yankees have an excellent alternative in Dellin Betances, the loss of Miller weakens the team’s relief corps substantially. After signing a four-year, $36MM contract this winter, Miller has been excellent in pinstripes, yielding just three runs with a 43-to-10 K/BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings as the team’s closer.
That’s far from the only notable injury around the league today, however. Here’s the latest…
- Lance Lynn is back in St. Louis for an MRI on his right forearm, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Lynn left Sunday’s outing after five innings due to tightness in his forearm and said the following day that he’s experienced the issue before. Earlier reports indicated that the Cardinals didn’t expect the injury to be serious, but Goold now writes that there is some concern among team officials. GM John Mozeliak would not address the situation until Friday when asked by Goold via email.
- Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is likely headed to the disabled list with a knee injury, writes C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Manager Bryan Price told reporters after the game that Cozart underwent an MRI that will be checked out tonight by team physician Dr. Timothy Kremchek, but a stint on the DL seems likely. “It’s a collective sadness that he’s going to miss some time,” said Price. “It looks pretty certain he’ll miss some time.” The Reds will likely turn to offseason acquisition Eugenio Suarez, notes Rosecrans, but the loss of Cozart simply adds another name to a growing list of contributors for the Reds. Devin Mesoraco has scarcely played this season due to a hip impingement, and Marlon Byrd will be out for an extended period of time due to a fractured wrist. With the Reds 11 games out of the division lead, each notable injury will only fuel speculation that the team will begin selling off pieces in the near future.
- The Rays will be without Desmond Jennings for an unknown period of time after the outfielder underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the plica band in his left knee, writes Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. Inflammation in the band caused it to compress on his knee, leading to pain whenever Jennings would try to extend the leg fully. Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters yesterday that the best case scenario for Jennings would be three to four weeks (via Sports Talk Florida’s Matt Stein, on Twitter), but the possibility that he’ll miss more time is certainly present.
With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz…
- Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
- The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
- Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
- Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
- The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
- ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
- Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
- Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
- Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
- Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
- Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
- Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.
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The Orioles could be preparing for Delmon Young to play more next season, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. “Delmon Young is an accomplished major league hitter who had a nice year with a lot of clutch hits in part-time duty in 2014,” texts Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We look forward to his return and contribution on our 2015 team. Depending on how the team is structured, he could have a more vital role this season.” Playing the right-handed Young more regularly could help make up for the loss of Nelson Cruz, although the Orioles continue to look at the left-handed Colby Rasmus as well, with an Orioles source telling Encina the odds that the team will sign him are “50-50.” Here are more notes from around baseball.
- About two dozen teams were expected to be on hand for Alexi Ogando‘s showcase yesterday in Tampa, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. Ogando, 31, was non-tendered by the Rangers this offseason after he missed much of the 2014 campaign with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Although he had a rough time in 2014 with an ERA near 7.00, Ogando entered the season with a career 3.12 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 381 innings split between the Rangers’ rotation and bullpen. Given his track record of success as both a starter and reliever, it’s not surprising that more than two-thirds of the team in the league would want to get a look at him to gauge his health for themselves.
- Johan Santana is again plotting a comeback, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick updates his progress. The lefty is preparing to appear in a Venezuelan winter league game and hopes to sign before camp opens, agent Peter Greenberg says.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty didn’t want to handicap the odds of his club signing ace Johnny Cueto to an extension prior to his specified Opening Day deadline when asked by MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Jocketty says the Cincinnati front office has a lot on its plate right now, with arbitration cases for Mike Leake, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman and Zack Cozart on the horizon. The Reds are also still pursuing upgrades for the bench and bullpen — a process Jocketty referred to as “slow.” Sheldon feels that given the Reds’ full 40-man roster, the most likely scenario would be a few additions on minor league deals with invites to big league camp.
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.