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Orioles Trade Danny Valencia For OF David Lough

December 18, 2013

The Orioles added some much-needed outfield depth Dec. 18, acquiring David Lough from the Kansas City Royals for Danny Valencia.

Lough (pronounced "low") is coming off a solid rookie season for the Royals, during which he batted .286/.311/.413/.724 with five home runs and 33 RBIs and placed eighth in the American League Rookie of the Year vote. It marked the 27-year-old Lough's first major opportunity at the big league level after he spent parts of four seasons with the Royals' Triple-A affiliate, Omaha.

Lough's real value lies in his defense. In 2013, Lough ranked ninth among all qualified outfielders with a 14.5 Ultimate Zone Rating. Thanks in large part to his defensive prowess, Lough led all AL rookies in Wins Above Replacement as measured by both and Lough primarily played right field in 2013, but has big league experience at all three outfield positions.

With the Orioles currently lacking a starting left fielder, Lough could get playing time at that position, joining a mix of candidates, which includes Nolan Reimold, Henry Urrutia and Francisco Peguero.

As the O's have added an option for left field, though, they have subtracted a candidate for the designated hitter role. Valencia had figured to be penciled in as at least a platoon designated hitter against left-handed pitchers after putting up prolific numbers against southpaws in 2013 (.371/.392/.639/1.031 line in 102 plate appearances).

Valencia, who was more or less a spring training afterthought in 2013, emerged as an important part of the lineup by the end of the season. With Valencia gone, the O's will look for another lefty-bashing right-handed bat, with candidates including Reimold and Steve Pearce.

This trade, while not earth-shattering, appears to be a win for the Orioles. As excellent as Valencia was with the bat last season, he is sort of a one-dimensional player -- he can crush lefties, but struggles against right-handers and can't play any position particularly well. His playing time would have been sporadic whenever the O's faced a right-handed pitcher.

In exchange, the Birds received a player who profiles similarly to recently departed left fielder Nate McLouth. Lough likely doesn't have the offensive upside or speed of McLouth, but is a better defender. He's also five years younger than McLouth and will remain under team control for the next six years at a cheaper price. Even if the lefty-swinging Lough doesn't have the bat to be an everyday player, he should be a valuable asset to the Birds' bench as a fourth outfielder.