Podsednik to the Reds?

MLB Trade Rumors has unveiled its top 50 available free agents. Of course, Cliff Lee heads the list.

A slight surprise (to some) is that the Reds are mentioned as picking up a free agent…outfielder Scott Podsednik. He’s #44 on their list. I’ve addressed the possibility of Pods coming to the Queen City previously. I’ll elaborate a bit more.

Podsednik provides the Reds a more than viable alternative in left field. His defense isn’t the greatest by any stretch of the imagination, but his offensive production is worthy of a mention here. In my post about whether the Reds should try to upgrade their roster by either trades or free agency, I mentioned Podsednik as a player to consider.

Jonny Gomes is on board for next season at $1.75 million. MLBTR states Podsednik could come in the “$3-$4 million range”. And Podsednik does offer the Reds a leadoff hitter, an area in which the Reds have issues. If this were to become a reality, the Reds would have anywhere from $4.75-$5.75 million for the position, if MLBTR is close to its assessment of the salary Podsednik may command.

Here’s MLBTR’s take on Pods:

The Good* 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.The Bad* 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.

The other names mentioned on that last point are interesting…Damon and Burrell. I’m discounting Crawford due to what he will demand on the market.

We know Damon would likely demand more money than what the Reds may offer. The Reds ran into that before this past season when they were interested in acquiring his services. Burrell is most likely to follow that lead especially since he played such a vital role for the Giants this past season. Neither Damon nor Burrell are tremendous defensively. Both are deficient there. Damon hasn’t maintained his speed the way Podsednik has. Burrell isn’t exactly a speedster. Podsednik did manage 35 steals last season. If anything, Pods fits the needs of the Reds better than almost any free agent out there. Well, a free agent that the Reds may be willing to pursue. Again, that Crawford guy.

If you have a question about his defense, you have to consider who’s in center. Drew Stubbs isn’t a hack out there. Plus, with Podsednik and Stubbs next to each other, it will be more difficult to find the alley.

I can honestly see this working. Two needs filled with one guy.

Update: This is looking a little more possible. Laynce Nix refused his assignment and opted to become a free agent. That leaves the Reds with only one lefty hitting outfielder, Jay Bruce.