The Orioles have acquired OF David Lough from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for INF Danny Valencia
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 18, 2013
This move makes a lot of sense for the Royals heading into 2014. Kansas City had a glut of fourth outfielders on the roster between Lough, Justin Maxwell, and Jarrod Dyson, and needed to move one of them. Meanwhile, the Royals lacked a corner infield backup and needed something at third base in case Mike Moustakas‘ failures continued.
Valencia, who is 29 and still on his rookie contract, is a career .263/.302/.412 hitter with 33 home runs in 1,261 plate appearances. But what he’s really good at is hitting left-handed pitching. Against lefties he has a career .329/.367/.513 slash line with 12 home runs in 428 plate appearances. This means the Royals can platoon Valencia with Moustakas at third base to protect Moose against left-handed pitchers.
For his career, Moose has not been able to hit lefties. For his career he’s hit .222/.275/.332 off of lefties compared to .252/.304/.404 against righties. So far in winter ball Moose is batting .345/.367/.759(!) against right-handed pitching. If Moose can carry his success against righties to the 2014 season, the Royals will be able to protect him against lefties with Valencia. It also helps in late inning situations when opponents bring in lefties late in the game to pitch to Moose as the Royals now have a counter move to combat that with Valencia.
It’ll be sad to see Lough go as he was a huge part in the Royals rebound last year once Jeff Francoeur was cut loose. Lough hit .286/.311/.413 in 2012 and Baseball-Referece considered his play to be worth 2.7 WAR. Not too shabby. But Lough didn’t have a place on this team heading into 2014 especially considering he bats left-handed. The value of Maxwell’s right handed bat and his ability to play centerfield in addition to the Royals corner infield needs makes trading Lough for Valencia a solid move for Kansas City.