Veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik has truly been one of the bigger surprises of the first four months of the fantasy season, entering Wednesday as the No. 6 outfielder on the ESPN Fantasy Player Rater. No, I'm not making that up, he's sixth! Podsednik, a 20th-round pick in ESPN average live drafts and 53rd among outfielders, is owned in 98.1 percent of ESPN standard (10-team) mixed leagues, certainly providing tremendous value with a .310 batting average and 30 stolen bases, the latter stat tied for third in baseball. Only Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford have more.
Of course, that's the good news. The bad news for fantasy owners is that Podsednik was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a pair of minor leaguers Wednesday night, so we hope you enjoyed the four months of surprising stalwart production Podsednik gave you. He joins a team that employs Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in its All-Star caliber outfield, and soon the enigmatic Manny Ramirez will join them as the left fielder and clean-up hitter. Ramirez is on the 15-day disabled list with a calf injury and is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment in about a week. Ramirez doesn't play every day and leaves games early for defensive aid; still, Podsednik will not be an everyday player much longer.
Sure, it makes sense for the going-nowhere Royals to send a 34-year-old outfielder packing for prospects, but it really sticks a fork in his fantasy value. A year ago, it was Pierre who served in the Dodgers' role of speedy, base-stealing fourth outfielder and occasional Ramirez fill-in, and did the job well, but he also totaled only 380 at-bats. Podsednik is on pace for 640 at-bats, but will obviously fall well short, unless there are more Dodgers outfield injuries. It's also no lock Podsednik, generally a leadoff hitter, will fill any top-of-the-order role even in a short-term basis for his new team. He won't supplant leadoff man Rafael Furcal, but could see some at-bats in the No. 2 spot.
As for the Royals, it's not like they have a bevy of options waiting for opportunity. Former third baseman Alex Gordon already has a place in a corner outfield spot. Then again, Gordon isn't doing much after raking in the minors. Willie Bloomquist and his .669 OPS started in right field Wednesday, but there isn't any upside there unless you need the occasional stolen base. Rick Ankiel is already playing regularly now that David DeJesus is out for the season, and Jose Guillen is the designated hitter, likely on his way out the proverbial door as well any minute. Who else is there, Mitch Maier? Willie Wilson or Amos Otis?
For those in AL dynasty leagues, keep an eye on Lucas May, a catcher with some pop, as he could get major league at-bats soon since only Jason Kendall stands in the way. May was hitting .296 at Triple-A Albuquerque with 11 home runs in 73 games. Remember when the Dodgers acquired Casey Blake just about two years ago, excellent catching prospect Carlos Santana was the return there. May isn't quite that special, but he's the organization's top catching prospect, like Santana once was. The other prospect in this trade is Class A pitcher Elisaul Pimentel.
We'll likely see more trades like this in the coming days, with bad teams dumping whatever salary they can, but the bottom line here is the Royals really don't have anyone fantasy worthy to replace Podsednik, and Podsednik is running out of time to remain fantasy worthy as a Dodger. The No. 6 outfielder for the season won't be a top-50 option the rest of the way, so it's time to move on.