Reds’ Cozart among top soon-to-be free agents

Reds shortstop Zack Cozart watches a home run leave Great American Ball Park against the Diamondbacks on July 19.

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Reds shortstop Zack Cozart watches a home run leave Great American Ball Park against the Diamondbacks on July 19.

There’s no question Zack Cozart is having his best season as a hitter, and he’s been so solid -- when not on the disabled list -- that Bleacher Report believes the Reds’ All-Star shortstop to be among the cream of the offensive crop in the class of soon-to-be free agents.

To be specific, B/R considers Cozart No. 5 behind Diamond backs outfielder J.D. Martinez (No. 1 with MLB's third-highest slugging percentage, .553 since 2014), Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (32 home runs), Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer and Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain. (Geez, Kansas City is looks ready to get pickled!)

While the Reds have shown little if any sign that they intend to sign him to another contract, there are signs that Cozart may command a nice deal on the open market. Long considered an outstanding defensive player, he’s hitting .318 with a .977 OPS entering Tuesday night’s game against the Padres.

He homered Monday night against San Diego in his second game back from the disabled list.

😲😳😲😳😲😳😲😳😲😳😲😳😲😳#MLB #DFS— brittinghamt (@Brittinghamt) August 8, 2017

Had he not been on the disabled list with a bothersome quad injury as the July 31 trade deadline came and went, he may well have been traded even though there are few teams in playoff contention who appear to have need at shortstop.

If he’s not traded before the end of the season, and trades can still happen even though the waiver deadline has passed, it will be interesting to see what teams around MLB think of Cozart.

B/R's Andrew Gould posits, There's evidence to support his newfound plate prowess, most notably career highs in walk (12.7) and hard-hit percentage (33.1). Although he's still likely to regress, anyone investing heavily on limited offensive excellence has the cushy fallback of an elite defensive shortstop.

Yet as Cozart will turn 32 Saturday, Gould suggests that some teams may be hesitant to believe that there’s staying power in the shortstop’s offensive surge.

More from Bleacher Report: Teams are also often skeptical of late-career breakouts . . . Those scarlet letters curb him from topping the list, but the class' premier shortstop stands out in a crowded crop of hitting-oriented first basemen and outfielders. 

Former Reds rightfielder Jay Bruce, who has hit 29 home runs with the Mets, is No. 9 on B/R's list, and former second baseman Brandon Phillips of the Braves made the "Old Reliables (Emphasis on Old) list, and former third baseman Todd Frazier of the Yankees landed on the "Strong Track Records" chart.

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