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.