Last week, Scott Podsednik officially declined his half of his mutual option with the Dodgers and elected to become a free agent. Pods has seen time with three different clubs over the past two seasons, and may end up with a fourth within the next few months. While a few years ago, Podsednik may have been a Major League afterthought, he's rebuilt some stock and now joins a fairly weak outfield market. Let's take a look at his position:
- Podsednik can still run. He may no longer be a 70 stolen base threat, but he's still good for 30-plus swipes per season and will always give pitchers something to think about when he's on base.
- His .300/.347/.397 slash line over the past two seasons is passable for a leadoff hitter who can steal plenty of bases.
- Podsednik makes good contact; he struck out just 15.4% of his plate appearances this year, while the Major League average sat at 20.7%.
- He's a Type B free agent, so he won't cost a draft pick to sign, and likely won't require an overly large salary either.
- He can handle lefties decently, so he doesn't need to be part of a platoon. It's worth noting that what little power he has is against right-handers though; he had just four extra base hits against southpaws in 2010.
- It's been awhile since Pods was a defensive asset. While he has good speed still, he's failed to post a positive UZR in left field since 2007, and his arm is considerably below average.
- While he can steal you bases, it's not at an elite rate anymore. Podsednik got caught in nearly 30% of his attempts in 2010, compared to just 16% of the time at his peak in 2004, when he stole 70 with Milwaukee.
- He can hit the occasional home run, but Podsednik isn't a reliable source of power. He's slugged above .400 just twice in his career.
- He may not be the sexiest option, but after Carl Crawford, Podsednik represents one of the best left field options on the market (Johnny Damon and Pat Burrell are others, depending on how many clubs still view them as viable outfielders). That should give him bargaining power and increase the number of suitors.
Podsednik is no longer the terror on the bases he was in his younger days. He'll be 35 next season, but can still steal 30+ bases and get on base well enough to be a club's leadoff hitter. He won't bring power, but he doesn't strike out much and many teams will like his veteran presence. He represents one of the better left field options on the market, thanks to a resurgent 2009-2010 stretch. He declined a $2MM salary with the Dodgers, which means he'll look to best that mark and likely won't have trouble doing so. It's at least possible a team commits two years, but I'd assume most will want to stick to one-year deals, probably with a club option. Podsednik can likely command a salary in the $3MM-$4MM range, and if he can maintain his speed, it wouldn't be a terrible commitment.
Podsednik's nothing too special at this point, but he picked a good time to enter free agency. A weak market and back-to-back solid seasons will earn him a respectable payday.