The Orioles today announced that they have acquired OF David Lough from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for INF Danny Valencia. While both players are probably not vaulting either club into a pennant race, they both provide value for their new club in various ways.
The Orioles ship off Danny Valencia after he was able to re-spark his career when it seemed to be ending. Valencia was solid for the Orioles in limited play, hitting .304/.335/.553 with 8 HR in 170 plate appearances. While he was productive, it is very important to remember he mostly saw time against left-handed pitchers. He had 102 plate appearances against lefties, hitting .371/.392/.639. with a .445 BABIP and .441 wOBA. This compares to 68 plate appearances against righties, hitting .203/.250/.422 with a .214 BABIP and .219 wOBA. Obviously, his splits are night-and-day differences.
Danny Valencia is a platoon bat at best. He still has difficulties picking up on good secondary pitches such as sliders. At times, he truly is a “guess hitter” at the plate. While he was productive for the Orioles, it is tough to keep a platoon bat on the roster like this over the course of a season, especially if they really do not have a defensive role on the club. Outside of the possibility that Manny Machado is not quite ready to play third base heading into the season, Valencia would really only see time at DH. The Orioles also have similar bat-types as Valencia currently on the roster in Steve Pearce, Henry Urrutia, Nolan Reimold and the Rule 5 selection Michael Almanzar. It made sense to move one of these players, and the Orioles were able to bring back a piece that can help fill some roles that are currently lacking.
Lough is the speedy, athletic type. He is not a burner necessarily on the bases, but is a solid defender in the outfield whom can make good reads and be productive defensively. He is not a stud in center field, but he can certainly hold his own there and is more than capable of filling in when Adam Jones cannot play. In the corners, Lough is an above-average to plus defender. It is clear that this is one of the reasons that the Orioles liked Lough, as they have no one else on the 40-man roster besides Adam Jones that can sufficiently play center field. Depth is important if a team wants to make a run at the playoffs, and the Orioles lacked at depth in this area.
Lough is not a dud with that bat either, although he probably is not the answer for the left field vacancy. Last season, he hit .286/.311/.413 with .326 BABIP and .319 wOBA in 335 plate appearances. While the batting line is nothing spectacular, these are solid numbers for a fourth outfielder.
He probably will go into the 2014 season being viewed as more than just a fourth outfielder, but I have a hard time projecting anyone else on the 40-man roster that can put together a higher WAR season than Lough. The defensive value is a plus in this aspect. It is important to remember that he does not have any options left, but I do not believe he should have too much trouble sticking on the club. If anything, he may end up seeing more time than necessary. Overall, I think the Orioles made a solid trade here, with the potential value being more from Lough than they could have gotten from Valenica. Again, it is important to remember that the Orioles have similar players as Valencia, and this should be correlated with the transaction.
Finally, Mike Ferrin had a good way of putting the trade:
Boy, turning 6 weeks of Danny Valencia into 6 years of David Lough is a nice trick
— Mike Ferrin (@MikeFerrinSXM) December 18, 2013