SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, a move designed to shore up their outfield at a time when left fielder Manny Ramirez and backup outfielder Reed Johnson are on the disabled list with no definitive indication of when either of them will be back.
To get Podsednik, the Dodgers sent their top catching prospect, Lucas May, to the Royals, along with low Class A pitcher Elisaul Pimentel. The Dodgers will pay the estimated $650,000 left in Podsednik's salary this year, a baseball source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
The trade was announced before Los Angeles played at San Diego. The Dodgers began the day five games behind the division-leading Padres.
"He has been a World Series champion with the Chicago White Sox [in 2005],'' Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "He brings speed, he is a good hitter, he can play left field or center field if necessary, and he can drive in runs. With Reed Johnson and Manny being out and not knowing exactly when they'll be back and not knowing if they will have additional issues the rest of the season, this is a safeguard against them having any trouble staying on the field.''
Podsednik hit .310 and stole 30 bases for the Royals this season. He had two hits for Kansas City in its 6-4 loss to Minnesota earlier on Wednesday. The 34-year-old Podsednik is a left-handed hitter who can play all three outfield spots, although the bulk of his experience is in left and center. He is in his 10th major league season and was in his first season with the Royals.
Podsednik signed a one-year, $1.75 million free-agent contract with the Royals last winter that included a $2 million club option for 2011. The Dodgers are assuming all of the roughly $750,000 Podsednik is still owed under that deal, including the $100,000 buyout of the option. But the option becomes a mutual one -- meaning Podsednik could simply void it and become a free agent again if he chooses -- if he reaches 525 plate appearances, something he already is well on the way to doing with 430.
Podsednik is expected to arrive in time for Thursday's game against the San Diego Padres, and the Dodgers will announce a corresponding move at that time.
Colletti said there still is enough payroll flexibility to make further deals before Saturday's non-waiver trading deadline.
"For the right deal, yes,'' he said.
In May, 25, the Dodgers are giving up a highly regarded prospect who was having an outstanding season at Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .296 with 11 homers and 45 RBIs, but who is still a work in progress behind the plate. His departure probably means A.J. Ellis, who was sent to Albuquerque last week when Brad Ausmus came off the disabled list, will be Russell Martin's backup for the foreseeable future after Ausmus retires at the end of the season.
It also might eliminate any chance that the Dodgers will non-tender Martin, who figures to get a significant raise on his current $5.05 million salary next winter but whose offensive numbers have dropped off dramatically since he played in the second of two consecutive All-Star Games in 2008.
"It was tough [to trade May],'' Colletti said. "He is a great kid, and he is one of those kids who loves to play and will do anything he can to help you win a game. But he was a converted shortstop, and he was working his way through that transition. Even though he has a chance to be a really good hitter, catching is tough. At this point, and with where we're at, this is the way we decided to go.
"We wish Lucas the best going forward.''
Pimentel, 22, was 9-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 17 appearances (16 starts) for low Class A Great Lakes. He gained a small measure of national notoriety earlier this season when he and teammate Rafael Ynoa helped save the life of a man who crashed his motorcycle directly in front of the car Pimentel and Ynoa were riding in.
"We were somewhat high on him, but he was still in A-ball,'' Colletti said. "He had progressed pretty well for the amount of time he had pitched.''
Podsednik is expected to arrive in time for Thursday's game against the San Diego Padres, and the Dodgers will announce a corresponding move at that time. The club probably will do one of three things: (1) Option outfielder Xavier Paul to Albuquerque, (2) designate veteran outfielder Garret Anderson for assignment or (3) send a reliever to the minors, thus reducing the pitching staff from the 13 the Dodgers have carried for the past week to the more conventional 12.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark and The Associated Press was used in this report.