The Orioles surprised fans by announcing a trade Wednesday night, sending Danny Valencia to Kansas City for David Lough. First of all, let’s not kid ourselves – these are two complimentary/role players, not impactful ones. This is nothing to get too excited about, either in celebration or criticism. I know what some of you are thinking: who is David Lough? So glad you asked, let’s take a look…
Lough has 400 major league plate appearances, upon which it’s tough judge how he will perform in the AL East. His 96 games in 2013 earned him a .286 BA and 8th place in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Looking at his four seasons in AAA (PCL), he put together a .295/.348/.474/.865 stat line. He shows impressive pop, but not home run power.
Lough has the speed to steal bases (though not always the savvy to keep a high SB rate), and is a plus defender at the corner outfield positions. He’s serviceable as a backup center fielder, but it is not his forte.
Meanwhile, Danny Valencia managed to resurrect his career in Baltimore as a part-time player, mashing left handed pitching, and serving as one of the few designated hitter candidates that could be trusted in the late portion of the 2013 season. After appearing in only 52 games in 2013, Valencia’s value to the Orioles in 2014 seemed to be on the rise, as he was a possible stopgap at third base until Manny Machado could return, and the club made no discernible effort to get a real DH.
That’s what makes the trade a bit of a head scratcher. The Orioles gave up a marginally talented role player for a younger player who has the promise to become a solid major league player. At 27, his window would be short, but it’s a reasonable assumption of risk, given the cost.
So what the hell are we doing here?
Are the Orioles stockpiling unimpressive outfielders in the hope that one will stick when thrown against the wall? How will Lough be used? Will he even come north with the club in March? How will the team replace Valencia’s contributions?
One way that this move makes sense is if the Orioles have decided to have Nolan Reimold serve as the primary designated hitter, in an effort to keep him in the lineup as much as possible. That would allow Lough and Francisco Peguero to serve as the 3rd and 4th outfielders (someone has to win the battle in Spring Training, right?).
Who knows, maybe Dan Duquette has some plan that hasn’t fully played out, and Lough fits in even if a a more prominent player is brought in to man left field (hey, it could happen!). It’s also possible that, with the lack of a blockbuster move, Duquette will put a patchwork of secondary players together, and look for any leftover magic from the 2012 season.