While the suddenly shortstop-needy Yankees have interest in acquiring the Diamondbacks’ Nick Ahmed, they’re not eyeing either the Reds’ Zack Cozart or the Tigers’ Jose Iglesias. In the wake of the shoulder injury Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius suffered Saturday, Cincinnati gauged the Bombers’ interest in Cozart, and Detroit did the same with Iglesias. The Yankees turned down both teams’ overtures, reports George A. King III of the New York Post.
It’s unclear what the Reds and Tigers would have wanted in return for their shortstops, neither of whom carry ultra-cheap price tags. Iglesias is set to rake in $4.1MM this year, his penultimate season of team control, while Cozart will collect $5.325MM and then become a free agent next winter. Given that Gregorius could only miss the first month of the season, it likely wouldn’t make sense for the Yankees to add a somewhat expensive stopgap at short.
The rebuilding Reds have been trying to move the 31-year-old Cozart since at least last summer, when a near-trade with the Mariners fell through. Cozart has been a terrific defender since debuting in earnest in 2012 (54 Defensive Runs Saved, 42.2 Ultimate Zone Rating), and he has recently offered respectable production at the plate. Over the previous two seasons, Cozart combined to slash .254/.308/.435 with 25 home runs in 722 plate appearances. It’s somewhat surprising, then, that Cincinnati hasn’t been able to find a taker for Cozart, though many teams are set at shortstop, as FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes. By ridding themselves of Cozart, the Reds would be able to turn to a full-time middle infield consisting of the 22-year-old Jose Peraza and the 23-year-old Dilson Herrera, the latter of whom will begin the season at the Triple-A level.
Unlike the Reds, the Tigers aren’t rebuilding, making it an eye-opener that they’d dangle their starting shortstop prior to Opening Day. Iglesias, 27, has been a roughly average player dating back to his first full season, 2013, having accounted for 5.6 fWAR in 1,359 plate appearances since then. The light-hitting Iglesias is coming off his worst offensive season (.255/.306/.336 in 513 PAs), but he made up for it with his defensive chops (three DRS, 11.6 UZR) en route to a career-high 2.1 fWAR. If it were to deal Iglesias sometime this year, Detroit would presumably hand shortstop to a potentially similar player in prospect Dixon Machado. MLB.com describes the 25-year-old as “a defensive wizard who has improved enough physically and with the bat to be a big league regular.” Offensively, Machado hasn’t lit it up at the Triple-A level, where he has slashed .264/.331/.344 in 1,136 PAs, and has only taken 91 trips to the plate in the majors on account of Iglesias’ presence.
As for the Yankees, barring an Ahmed acquisition or a change of heart on Cozart or Iglesias, they’ll go into Opening Day with one of Starlin Castro, Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes, Pete Kozma or Ruben Tejada as Gregorious’ temporary replacement. If it’s Castro, who’s the Yankees’ starting second baseman, other members of the shortstop candidates group or utilityman Rob Refsnyder could fill in at the keystone.