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Scott Podsednik declines his option to return to Dodgers; now do they have to do something?

November 4, 2010 | 11:59 am

OK, Dodgers, now what are you going to do?

Scott Podsednik on Thursday declined his option to return to the Dodgers, and that may end an easy and inexpensive way out for a potential left fielder.

Try to think of this as good news. It could now force the Dodgers to aggressively seek a left fielder, preferably one capable of sending a baseball over the fence.

They desperately need to find another middle-of-the-order threat at some position.

Podsednik had his uses, enough so that the Dodgers had picked up their half of the mutual option on him for next season, which called for a $2-million salary.

But apparently -- hopefully -- they weren't promising him a starting job, and $2 million is plenty cheap for a veteran starting outfielder. And his returning is not off the table either.

Podsednik's agent, Ryan Gleichowski, told The Times' Dylan Hernandez that they remain in conversations with the Dodgers and that Podsednik would like to return.

"We're still engaged in discussions with the Dodgers," Gleichowski said.

It's something of a gamble for Podsednik, 34, who as a free agent last offseason (after batting .304 and stealing 30 bases with the White Sox in 2009) found attractive offers wanting. He ended up signing a one-year deal with the lowly Royals for $1.65 million.

He hit .297 with 35 stolen bases overall last season. He missed the last month of the season after suffering plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

If the Dodgers were looking at Podsednik as their insurance plan, at this moment, left field is a wasteland. There is no one in their system close to being ready to claim an everyday job -- not light-hitting Xavier Paul nor Trayvon Robinson.

Jerry Sands emerged as their top-hitting prospect last season, but he split his time between class-A Great Lakes and double-A Chattanooga and looks a year away.

Jay Gibbons, currently a free agent, is viewed more as left-handed pinch hitter and role player.

The Dodgers are hardly dealing from a position of strength in acquiring a significant bat. Free agents Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth are thought to be out of their financial league.

That leaves the trade route, and the Dodgers don't have much to offer there either.

Podsednik as a backup and role player still has its appeal. Gleichowski said finances and playing time are all considerations in Podsednik's decision to become a free agent.

-- Steve Dilbeck