Cozart expects to be healthy in offseason

Although uncertain about where he'll be in 2017, shortstop would like to be around for Reds' next upswing

Cozart expects to be healthy in offseason

CINCINNATI -- Reds shortstop Zack Cozart certainly would have liked to have finished his nice comeback season from reconstructive right knee surgery. Cozart, on the 60-day disabled list with right knee tendinitis, fully expects to be 100 percent when he begins offseason workouts in early November.

What Cozart is less certain about is which team's uniform he will wear in 2017.

"You know there are going to be rumors," Cozart said on Sunday. "I dealt with it at the Trade Deadline, and it was weird. Just like with [Jay Bruce], the Reds are all I've ever known. Hearing your name in rumors or possible trade scenarios is weird. But I've made it clear that I love it here and want to be here. But like with Jay, it's a business, and decisions have to be made. We'll see what happens."

Cozart, 31, is third-year arbitration eligible this winter after he earned $2.93 million this season. He will be one year away from being eligible for free agency. The Reds have Jose Peraza needing a spot to play every day next season, but Peraza can also play four positions.

As someone who experienced the postseason with Cincinnati in 2012-13, followed by three losing seasons, Cozart would like to be around for the club's next upswing.

"I'm looking forward to next year. I want to be here," Cozart said. "I'm looking forward to us being over this rebuilding phase and starting to get serious about winning. I think that showed in the second half."

In 121 games, Cozart had the best season of his career as he batted .252/.308/.425 with a career-high 16 home runs while notching 50 RBIs and 28 doubles. An aggressive hitter, he struck out just 84 times in 508 plate appearances.

Defensively, according to Fangraphs.com, Cozart was ranked fourth among National League shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved (eight), fifth in Ultimate Zone Rating (9.7) and sixth in defensive runs above average. He was also fifth in fielding percentage (.980) while committing 10 errors.

Reds turn two in the 8th

Cozart played his last game on Sept. 10, when right knee soreness forced him to be shut down.

"It definitely was frustrating [to finish on the DL], but I try to think about all of the positives," Cozart said. "In Spring Training, I really didn't know what to expect coming into the season. Coming off the knee injury I had, I tried to tell people I didn't just have a simple ACL surgery. My knee was totally reconstructed, the outside of the knee and everything. I'm happy with the way the year went and look forward to not having to rehab in an offseason. I will just get my workouts in and be stronger for next year."

Worth noting
It wasn't an easy season for the Reds or manager Bryan Price. On Sunday, Price was asked for his highlight of the 2016 season, and he took a moment to praise the veteran players for not giving up after a poor start to the season for the team.

"Those guys, to their credit, just stayed locked in," Price said. "You hope there is help on the way, but we realized [in April and May] that there really wasn't. The help we were going to get was going to come from our own system, so it was going to be rookies. These guys -- it's a cliche -- kept their nose to the grindstone and continued to go out there and play hard and prepare hard. I admired that a great deal."

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.