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Angels sign former Reds shortstop Zack Cozart to 3-year, $38 million deal

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It’s the latest in an offseason of smart moves for the Angels.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images

It’s slightly weird to be living in a reality where the Angels had a plan and executed it more than well enough in the offseason to vastly improve their 2018 outlook, but good on them for doing so! This is exciting!

Granted, the Ohtani signing might have been more luck than anything else (we have no way to concretely tell what tipped his decision their way), but no matter which combination of assets made him decide to be an Angel, they are building on that snag beautifully with moves that make them at least a contender right now — even if they aren’t at the top of the contending list just yet.

But now they’ve signed Zack Cozart to slot in at third base, in addition to getting Ian Kinsler for second base, and their infield might be ... verifiably good now? What a turnaround in just a few quick moves. According to Ken Rosenthal, the deal is worth three years and $38 million, which hits the sweet spot of what Cozart was looking for (multiple years at a fair price) and what the Angels needed to do here (not break the bank but not be stingy when it comes to suitably improving their infield).

Besides the money paid out, it’s good to remember that Anaheim also didn’t have to give anything up to make this free agent signing, since the Reds didn’t extend him a qualifying offer.

Cozart can now own the hot corner for the Angels, with Luis Valbuena moving to first on a more full-time basis (where he’s better defensively), and their infield now goes Cozart-Andrelton Simmons-Kinsler-Valbuena. Not. Too. Shabby.

The former Reds shortstop hit .297/.385/.548 last season, a decent step up over any of his previous major league seasons in which he played more than 11 games, and he had an OPS of .933. His bWAR clocked in at 4.9, which was also a career high, and he was 70th in the league in fielding percentage for 2017. Valbuena had a .947 fielding percentage at third base (but a 1.000 fielding percentage during his 48 games at first) while Cozart was in line with league average at .975 while at short.

Right now, judging this signing before he’s played a single inning for the Angels and (probably) before they’ve finished making moves this offseason (find more pitching!) this looks like a good deal. It’s smart, reasonably priced, and upgrades this team in clear ways without limiting what they can do elsewhere.