During the 2018 offseason, Zack Cozart put the pen to paper finalizing a 3-year, $38 million dollar contract to join the Angels. Prior to signing with the Angels, Cozart served as the Cincinnati Reds shortstop for the previous seven seasons. While in talks with Angels GM Billy Eppler, their original agreement was for Cozart to convert over to second base and play alongside Andrelton Simmons up the middle. While still in talks with Cozart, Eppler acquired the Detroit Tigers Ian Kinsler to play second base after asking Cozart if he’d move over to third base instead of their original agreement. Cozart was all on board, as his main focus was to do whatever made the team better.
Cozart really broke through in his 2017 season with the Reds. He set his own career highs in runs (80), on-base percentage (.385), slugging percentage (.548), triples (7) and walks (62). He batted .297 with 24 home runs and 63 RBI’s. He went on to make his first all-star game appearance in Miami, Florida. Cozart’s 2017 season was really the determining factor that put him out on the market as a coveted free-agent. Cozart was one of the few bright spots on the Reds roster other than first baseman Joey Votto, but Cincinnati just didn’t have what it would take to re-sign him.
2018 Zack Cozart:
Cozart brought a lot of hype to the Angels roster after having a career-best season the pervious year. His performance wasn’t quite what the organization and fan base were hoping for, as he got off to a slow start. A positive of Cozart’s playing ability, is he is extremely versatile. Last season he saw time at third base, shortstop and second base. Just as Cozart was working his way through his early season slump, he suffered an injury to his left shoulder. He then was forced to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum and put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. The recovery time for his procedure is a six to eight-month recovery before getting back to full strength. Cozart finished the season only playing 58 games, batting .219 with 5 HR’s and 18 RBI.
Cozart has reported to spring training camp and expressed that he’s feeling better than, he even expected. He reported to camp much earlier with all the pitchers and catchers, as position players are set to report a week later. He’s getting a jumpstart by reporting early and getting back into the swing of things after rehabbing his injury during the winter. Cozart stated he’s ready to go, come opening day. He told Jeff Fletcher from the OC Register “Besides rehabbing every day, I had a pretty normal offseason,” Cozart said. “Hitting, throwing and fielding ground balls.” Cozart will slot in as the opening day third baseman when the season begins on March 28 against the Oakland A’s at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
It might be a reach to think that Cozart is going to be the All-Star he once was in his final year in Cincinnati, but he does bring a lot of different assets to the ball club. He can play multiple positions and hit in different spots in the lineup. His power surge in 2017 with 24 home runs was a significant uptick, and was done in a hitters friendly ballpark at Great American Ball Park. Angels stadium gives the pitchers the favorable advantage, so Cozart’s going to really have to run into some baseballs to get back to his 24 home run season. Cozart projects as an above average defender who has decent speed and will hit around the .250 to .260 range.
(Top Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)