CINCINNATI -- In an expected decision on Monday as the free-agent market opened for business, MLB.com learned via a source that the Reds will not extend a qualifying offer to shortstop Zack Cozart.
Teams have until 5 p.m. ET on Monday to make qualifying offers of $17.4 million to their own free agents, a figure set by the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball. If an offer is made, players have 10 days to accept, and if it is declined, the team is eligible for a compensation pick in the 2018 Draft.
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Because the Reds will not extend Cozart a qualifying offer, they will not receive any compensatory picks or other compensation if and when he signs elsewhere.
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Cozart, 32, had a big year ahead of his being a free agent for the first time, batting .297/.385/.548 with a career-high 24 home runs and 63 RBIs. He also played excellent defensively. From 2011-16, Cozart batted .246/.289/.385. He missed most of '15 with a catastrophic right knee injury and surgery that also spilled into parts of the '16 season.
Cincinnati's not making a qualifying offer to Cozart doesn't necessarily mean he won't return to the club he's been with since his big league debut in 2011. For the second winter in a row, there is limited demand for shortstops on the open market, especially among teams expected to contend next season.
As the 2017 season wound down, both Cozart and the Reds had seemed open to his returning, but there had been no negotiations.
If Cozart does move elsewhere, it would mean that Jose Peraza would get the chance to be the regular shortstop. Peraza, who will turn 24 on April 30, was expected to take over for Cozart had he been traded last winter, but he wound up opening the season at second base.
In 143 games, Peraza batted .259/.297/.324 with five home runs and 37 RBIs. He struggled in the first half and wound up losing his everyday spot in the lineup to Scooter Gennett. However, Peraza played better down the stretch when Cozart missed time with a quad injury. Over his final 48 games from July 27, he batted .293 with a .361 on-base percentage.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.