Blue Jays: Zack Cozart could shore up middle-infield uncertainties
The Toronto Blue Jays should look to free-agent shortstop Zack Cozart to shore up their middle infield uncertainties especially seeing there is no draft-pick compensation attached to Cozart as the Cincinnati Reds did not extend a qualifying offer to the shortstop.
The Blue Jays middle infield is problematic, to say the least as the aging Troy Tulowitzki continues to regress while struggling to remain healthy coupled with the reoccurring injury woes Devon Travis continually has to deal with year in and year out. These reasons are why free-agent shortstop Zack Cozart could be an affordable fix for next season and beyond.
Cozart has spent his entire 7-year career manning the shortstop position but the 32-year old did play 11 games at second base while in the minor leagues. The transition to second base would be an easy one for Cozart and a timely one as his fielding metrics last season were on the low end compared to season’s past.
The middle-infielder could also help the Blue Jays lineup with the stick as well as he put up career offensive numbers in 2017. Cozart slashed .297/.385/.548 with 24 home runs and 63 runs batted in. Cozart’s 7 triples were also more than the entire Blue Jays team last season as the slow afoot Jays mustered a mere 5 triples in 5499 at-bats in 2017.
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The former Red shortstop earned $5.325 million last season in the final year of his contract and will undoubtedly earn a raise on a multi-year deal this offseason. If the Blue Jays elect not to bring back free agent Darwin Barney next season that frees up $2.887 million they could throw at Cozart.
The Jays need to employ a starter like Cozart rather than attempting to band-aid the middle infield with Barney or Ryan Goins in the event of an injury. Both Goins and Barney provide solid defence but neither can provide offensively what Cozart brings to the lineup.
The Jays have been forecasted to be in the running for free agent Eduardo Nunez but Cozart may be the safer bet if the shortstop is willing to move his craft to second base when called upon.
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Purely speculative at this point but Cozart makes sense and provides flexibility on the infield without giving up anything on offence. At the end of the day, it will surely come down to dollars and cents.