The Cincinnati Reds took care of half of its arbitration eligible cases on Friday when they agreed to a contract extension with shortstop Zack Cozart.
Cozart will be getting a raise from $2.35 million last season to $2.95 million in 2016. He was on pace for a career year having already hit nine homers with 28 RBI through the beginning of June, but a season ending injury cost him the remainder of the season on June 10. Eugenio Suarez took over for Cozart at short, but will be moving over to play third in the place vacated by Todd Frazier after he was traded to the White Sox.
Known for his defense, the Reds extended the 30-year old Cozart for one year, with questions of his health lingering. He has 456 career hits through 500 games and is a lifetime .245 hitter with 42 career homers and 91 doubles. He’ll look to build of his success at the plate in 2015 and certainly looks not to regress to his 2014 season where he hit just .221 with career lows in homers (4) and RBI (38) in a full season of work.
The Reds were not able to agree to terms with reliever and potential closer candidate, J.J. Hoover. After the Aroldis Chapman trade, Hoover became extremely valuable to the Reds which led to the Pittsburgh native to request $1.4 million in 2016. The Reds countered with an offer of $1.225 million which would still be a significant raise for Hoover, who made $535,000 in 2015.
He was one of the lone bright spots in a Reds bullpen that was knocked around by opposing teams throughout last season. He rebounded from a disastrous 2014 campaign in which he went 1-10 with a 4.88 ERA going 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 2015. Hoover also had 18 holds, but did have six blown saves and has 13 in 218 appearances. He’s also a durable arm for the Reds bullpen no matter how he’s used as he pitched in 67 games in 2015 and topped off at 69 appearances in 2013. The two have until Hoover’s arbitration meeting sometime in February to agree to a contract. If they did not, Hoover would be the first player to do so with the Reds since Chris Reitsma went to arbitration in 2004, a case the Reds won.
On Friday the Reds also signed Jordan Pacheco to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. Pacheco is a rare utility player that can play the corner infield positions and also catch. He’s played in 346 games with the Rockies and Diamondbacks and is a career .278 hitter, but despite playing most of those games in hitter friendly Coors Field, he has just ten career homers.
All three players hope to see each other in Goodyear, Ariz., when the Reds begin Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 18 with the rest of the team joining them on Feb. 23.