The Mariners have been in trade talks with the Reds in hopes of acquiring shortstop Zach Cozart.
Multiple sources confirmed that the Mariners are in the midst of talks with the Cincinnati Reds on a deal that would send shortstop Zack Cozart to Seattle in exchange for a minor league prospect. The peripherals of the deal are still being worked out and there could be additional minor league prospects included on both sides of the trade.
The hold-up in this deal could the Reds’ desire to trade Jay Bruce. Cincy had an agreement on a deal with the Mets, but it’s been stalled because of issues on the medical reports.
Cozart, 30, is hitting .266 with a .779 on-base plus slugging percentage with 22 doubles, two triples, 15 homers and 41 RBI in 95 games. He’s a proven big league shortstop that plays defense at an above average level.
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Why make this move?
Well, opening day starter Ketel Marte has had an inconsistent 2016, which isn’t completely unexpected given it was his first full season at the big league level. Marte, who is currently on the disabled list with mononucleosis, is hitting .273 with a .657 OPS, 12 doubles, two triples, a homer and 19 RBI in 74 games. His approach at the plate has regressed with a .299 on-base percentage and just 11 walks.
Beyond the offense, Marte has been more inconsistent than anticipated on defense. While there has always been some question to whether he projected as an every day shortstop, there was a thought that his athleticism might help him evolve into a better defensive shortstop. It hasn’t happened this season. He’s made costly miscues on routine plays. His 13 errors this season are tied for the second highest total among AL shortstops with Brad Miller of all people.
Cozart would serve as a proven upgrade over Marte, who could then go back to Class AAA level for this season and possibly next season to continue to develop. The big attraction for the Mariners about Cozart is a relatively cheap price tag. They’d owe the pro-rated portion of his $2.925 million contract this season and then have club control of him next season in his final year of arbitration eligibility.
While the Mariners treading water around .500, this move wouldn’t just about this season but going into 2017 with a proven player at a premium defensive position. The low cost would allow them to use the money saved from the trade of Wade Miley to address other needs.
As for prospects given up, the Reds are looking for young arms. One name that has been reported is left-hander Luiz Gohara, who is rated as the Mariners’ No. 6 prospect by Baseball America. Gohara, 20, has a live arm and a mid 90s fastball. It’s been commanding the fastball and discipline to conditioning that have plagued him. He seemed to be putting it together this season. In three starts with Short-season Everett and five starts with Class A Clinton, he’s 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA, 58 strikeouts and 11 walks in 44 innings pitched. He signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Brazil in 2012.