CINCINNATI - Longtime Reds shortstop Zack Cozart has a new team and a new position.
Cozart, 32, cashed in on his best season in 2017 and signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels, the club reported. The deal is worth $38 million, according to Jeff Fletcher, Angels beat writer for the Orange County Register.
General Manager Billy Eppler confirmed that Cozart will play third base since the Angels have one of the best fielding shortstops in baseball in Andrelton Simmons.
— Keenan Singleton (@KJMSingleton) December 15, 2017
Eppler said he was first interested in signing Cozart to play second base, but the Angels traded for Detroit's Ian Kinsler earlier this week, so the negotiations with Cozart switched to third base.
That was fine with Cozart, even though he has never played third or second in the majors. It shouldn't be a tough adjustment, he said.
"I’ve been on some bad teams lately,” Cozart said, according to Fletcher's report. “When I found out the Angels were interested, it should be a really good team, so I was on board. When I found out we could get Ian, I was shocked. Everything was happening so quick, but at the end of the day, I want to win.”
Eppler said Cozart’s willingness to change positions assured him “we got the right player from an ability standpoint and a character standpoint.”
The Reds won't get any draft picks since they didn't make Cozart a qualifying offer.
Cozart's departure makes Jose Peraza, 23, first in line to take over shortstop for the Reds.
The Reds, still in their "rebuilding" mode and having dispatched most high-salaried players since 2015, showed little interest in getting into a free-agent bidding war over Cozart.
Cozart reportedly made $5.325 million last year. Peraza will make $540,000 next year and isn't eligible for free agency until at least 2023.
The Reds have finished last in the NL Central the past three years.
Cozart made his first All-Star team last season and had his best year at the plate with career highs in home runs (24), batting average (.297), on-base percentage (.385) and slugging percentage (.548).
Cozart said his donkey - a present from Joey Votto for making the All-Star team - will stay in Cincinnati for now.
Cozart was the Reds' starting shortstop for the past six seasons, though he missed most of the 2015 season with an injury.
He had been a Red for his entire pro career since being drafted in the second round in 2007 out of the University of Mississippi. He made his major-league debut in 2011.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 15, 2017