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Reds do not make qualifying offer to Zack Cozart


C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Reds will not make a $17.4 million qualifying offer to shortstop Zack Cozart.

Cozart, 32, had the best season of his career in 2017, batting .297/.385/.548 with 24 home runs, 63 RBI, and 80 runs scored in 507 plate appearances. He also played solid defense at a key position on the diamond.

Cozart is easily the most attractive free agent shortstop on the market. Other free agent shortstops include J.J. Hardy, Jose Reyes, Alcides Escobar, Alexi Amarista, Ruben Tejada, Erick Aybar, and Eduardo Nunez.

Earlier this season, there had been some rumblings that the Reds wanted to sign Cozart to an extension, but obviously nothing got done and he’ll test his value in free agency. Jose Peraza will most likely be the Reds’ everyday shortstop if Cozart ends up elsewhere.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.