MLBTradeRumors has a brief discussion today about the Reds and their lack of a solid leadoff presence. Cincinnati leadoff hitters are producing a .237 on-base percentage, worst in the league. While the article suggests the Reds are looking internally, it also tosses out Scott Podsednik as a potential fit for the Reds. So two questions for the Royals:
1) Should they trade him?
2) What would be a reasonable return?
Presently, the Reds utilize either Drew Stubbs or Chris Dickerson at leadoff. Neither have produced, as Stubbs is putting up a feeble .174/.267/.283 line, while Dickerson, who’s been on the DL since 4/29 with a broken bone in his wrist, isn’t much better at .205/.222/.273.
With a line of .340/.393/.434, Podsednik has been an early surprise on the year and has 11 stolen bases to go with it. Clearly, he’d be a better fit for the Reds right now, if they wanted to trade for him.
If the Royals can get a good return, they should trade him. He’s only on a one year deal in 2010 with a club option for 2011, which may not be exercised anyway depending on the development of Mitch Maier, David Lough, Jordan Parraz, Jai Miller, or even Alex Gordon. Skeptics doubted a repeat of his .296/.345/.402 in 2009 before the season started, so it’s possible and most likely he’ll regress at least towards that level of production, so right now, his trade value is at its highest. He won’t be on the team in 2012 when the Royals start getting some of their important prospects up from the minors.
However, the Royals don’t have to trade Podsednik, and Cincinnati’s GM Walt Jocketty doesn’t seem pressed to make a trade either, so the return would have to be more than some fringe High-A arms.
"“I don’t think we have anyone in the minors capable of the filling that role,” said GM Walt Jocketty. “And, frankly, there’s no one available in trade right now. I think we’re going to try to fix it internally. We may be able to do something in trade later.”"
So, then, what would I consider a fair return? As I discussed last month, the Royals as an organization are thin at shortstop and one of the minor league prospects I mentioned was Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart, ranked by Baseball America as the Reds’ 10th best prospect. He’s currently blocked by Orlando Cabrera and Brandon Phillips in the middle infield so he could be available. The Reds also have Billy Hamilton, Chris Valaika, Mariekson Gregorius and Miguel Rojas. Cozart and Valaika will both turn 25 in August, but the other three are 21 or younger.
The Royals have shown a willingness to load up a position full of young prospects to see who develops. They currently have a young but potentially strong crop of catchers in the system, led by Wil Myers and Manny Pina, though Salvador Perez and Jose Bonilla also rate highly. With the acquisition of Rey Navarro earlier this month, the Royals could look to replenish some shortstop prospects to develop behind Mike Aviles (okay, and Yuniesky Betancourt) while Jeff Bianchi mends (again).
Beyond that crop of shortstops, Cincinnati has a number of pitchers who could be available as a throw-in should the Royals pick up part of Podsednik’s $1.65 million salary. At any rate, the Royals are likely to find themselves at a point where they should look to flip some veterans on the roster for younger players who could complement the rising prospects who (hopefully) will start winning in the next couple of years. Podsednik is one of those, and if the Reds will part with something of value, the Royals should go for it.