In a move that will shake up the NL West, nay, the entire National League as we know it, the Kansas City Royals have reportedly traded outfielder Scott Podsednik to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor leaguers Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel. The Dodgers will reportedly pick up the $650,000 dollars still owed to Podsednik, whose initial signing by the Royals during the off-season inspired some jackass on the internet to hypothesize a ‘Contest‘ between Dayton Moore and Omar Minaya to match foolish move for foolish move.
It must be admitted that Podsednik has played better than expected, accumulating 1.2 WAR in 94 games for the Royals, although the playing time (replacement) element is inflated due to the Royals hitting Podsednik first for most of the season (14.3 replacement runs versus 11.3 total runs above replacement means he was still a below-average player). Sure, his defense in left field was average at best according to UZR (-1.5), DRS (-12!), and to anyone who watched his …circuitous… routes (one of the most frustrating parts of Rick Ankiel being out for so long only to have Pods get traded right as Ankiel returned was that we missed the inevitable collision). Over the rest of the season, playing full-time, one would expect Podsednik to be worth roughly a half-win above replacement level, although how much playing time he gets will be contingent on when Manny Ramirez and Reed Johnson return from their respective injuries. Assuming full-time play, a half win is probably worth about $2 million dollars. Minus the $650,000 owed to Podsednik, the surplus is roughly the market value of a C prospect.
I’ll defer to others regarding the prospects that the Dodgers are sending to Kansas City. I’ve read both May and Pimental described as “fringe,” although John Sickels called May (a catcher with a decent bat but defensive issues) a “C” prospect during the past off-season, which would make this potentially a minor win for the Royals, although given the Dodgers’ situation (a contender with injuries to multiple outfielders) either way it seems to be a fair trade for both sides.
While Podsednik has played better than should have been expected for the Royals and thus justified his low cost in a vacuum, it was still not a smart signing for the Royals, given that even with Podsednik’s not-horrible play he’s still a below-average outfielder in his mid-thirties who wouldn’t exactly have taken the Royals to a new level. Moreover, one also has to take into account the opportunity cost the Royals gave up “showcasing” Podsednik while Mitch Maier sat on the bench and newly-minted outfielder Alex Gordon rotted in AAA. But that’s all water under the bridge. Although it is unlikely that Mays or Pimental will amount to much, it is still a decent return to get due to a fortuitous confluence of a (typical) BABIP-fueled July by Podsednik and the Dodgers’ outfield problems (Juan Pierre apparently isn’t available, no doubt much to Ned Colletti’s chagrin). It doesn’t make up for, well, you know… but it would be churlish to deny that this was nice work by Dayton Moore.
I’m intrigued, Dayton. For your next tricks, I suggest a) convincing another team that Rick Ankiel is worth something (even if only taking on his salary); and b) resisting going after the Big Prize.