Revisiting the Trade Deadline: Scott Podsednik


Today, I’ll take a look at the second of the Royals three big trades in 2010, that of Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers for catcher Luke May and minor league pitcher Elisaul Pimentel.

Podsednik had performed well above my expectations as a Royal, but I also knew he wasn’t long for the organization, either.  With the Royals, the spectre of keeping a veteran around is always there, and as the days counted down toward the deadline, I grew increasingly concerned that Podsednik would both remain a Royal for the rest of the year and that the Royals would attempt to retain him into 2011.

Thankfully, while sitting at the dinner table, I got an update on my phone from Twitter on July 28 that Podsednik had been traded.

Phew.

In 435 plate appearances with Kansas City, Podsednik had compiled a .310/.353/.400/.753 stat line, just a bit above average. He’d added a somewhat surprising six homers and 30 stolen bases (on 42 attempts). And despite some, let’s say interesting, angles towards fly balls, had played a reasonable left field defense. At least his offensive performance made up for it slightly.

Podsednik’s season looks good on paper, but was mostly inflated by two big months (granted, that’s two months more than a lot of players get in a year). In April, Pods hit .350/.418/.375/.793 and was 8 of 9 in stolen bases. In July, he hit .346/.393/.490/.883 with two homers and three triples in the month.

It was at that peak value that the Royals traded him to the Dodgers, who hoped to use him as a leadoff hitter, pinch runner, and as more outfield depth as they tried to keep up with the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres in the race for the NL West.

In return, the Royals got the #1 catching prospect in the Dodgers organization (according to Baseball America before the season began), Luke May, and an old-for-his-level righty in Elisaul Pimentel.

After joining the Dodgers, Podsednik hit just .262/.313/.336/.649 and the Dodgers missed the playoffs. Podsednik also reached 525 plate appearances for the year, allowing him to void the 2011 option in his contract.

So right away, if the Royals get anything at all out of May and Pimentel, they’ve won it in the long-term. In the short-term, I have to say the trade is a push with too little info.

May joined Omaha in Triple A right after the trade and homered in his first at bat. One of the critiques of May was that his numbers were inflated by playing in Albuquerque most of the season, but he actually finished with a higher OPS in his time in Omaha than as an Isotope. After the trade, May hit .275/.362/.516/.878 in Omaha with five homers. He made his major league debut on September 4, 2010 and drove in six runs in 39 plate appearances in the majors. His first major league hit was a single off Chris Sale of the White Sox on September 12.

Pimentel had a terrible stint in Burlington in the Midwest League after the trade, putting up a 5.76 ERA in five starts and compiling a 19/16 K/BB ratio. His strikeout rate declined and walkrate increased in those five starts. He’s got a live arm, but is moving slowly through the minors. If he makes it to the majors at all, it’ll be way down the line. He’s not a total lost cause, but there’s a way to go. His final start for Burlington came on August 22 where he threw six shutout innings, allowed just two hits and got the win. He still walked four and only struck out three, however.

As I said above, if the Royals get anything out of May, they win the trade, and it looks like he has a shot to be the regular backup next season to Brayan Pena (assuming the Royals don’t acquire another catcher in the offseason – and that they retain Pena). With Jason Kendall out until next spring at the earliest after rotator cuff surgery, May will have an opportunity to play a lot at the big league level. Though he doesn’t project to be much more than a career backup, that can still be a valuable player, considering catchers take more frequent days off than any other position player.

I give the slight edge long-term to the Royals. I like May, but I’m not sure how much he impacts the club long-term. Still, the Royals moved a player they (probably) weren’t going to keep around and got a couple of pieces in return who might contribute when it matters. That’s always a victory.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Elisaul Pimentel Kansas City Royals KC Luke May MLB Royals Scott Podsednik

  • rbt

    Podsednik also fought with plantar fasciitis after joining the Dodgers and didn’t play after Sept. 9.