David Lough scores against the Oriols in a game at Kauffman Stadium… (JOHN SLEEZER, MCT )
For the past several weeks, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette turned to the Kansas City Royals in an attempt to acquire outfielder David Lough from the club's logjam of outfielders.
It was one of many trade possibilities Duquette pursued in addressing the lack of a left-handed outfield bat created by the departure of left fielder Nate McLouth.
And interestingly enough, the Orioles' selection in last week's Rule 5 draft paved the way for a trade, and on Wednesday, the Orioles acquired the 27-year-old Lough in exchange for infielder-designated hitter Danny Valencia.
The trade comes a day after the Orioles filled another major need by signing free-agent closer Grant Balfour to a two-year, $15 million deal to replace Jim Johnson, who was traded to the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 2. The club hopes to announce Balfour's signing, which is pending a physical, by the end of the week.
Lough hit .286/.311/.413 with five homers and 33 RBIs in 96 games while playing all three outfield positions in his first extended major league experience last season. In Kansas City, he appeared to be the odd man out in a crowded outfield, but Duquette said he believes Lough can be an everyday player in Baltimore.
“We've been working on this [trade] for a while,” Duquette said. “Lough had a good year this year. He got some votes for Rookie of the Year. He can play all three outfield positions. He's a good hitter, he's got good speed, he's a good defender.”
Lough, who will also serve as a backup in center field, joins a left-field mix that includes holdovers Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce as well as newcomer Francisco Peguero. Left-handed-hitting Henry Urrutia could also get time in left field.
The Orioles' selection of infielder Michael Almanzar in the Rule 5 draft allowed the club to deal Valencia, Duquette said. Both Valencia and Almanzar play third base and first base and would receive most of their at-bats at designated hitter against left-handed pitching.
Valencia emerged last season as the team's right-handed designated hitter, hitting .304/.335/.553 in 52 games, including a .371/.392/.639 clip in 102 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.
But the Orioles are intent on getting a good look at the 23-year-old Almanzar after acquiring infielder Ryan Flaherty and left-hander T.J. McFarland in the past two Rule 5 drafts. And dealing Valencia clears a roster spot for Almanzar while giving the Royals a platoon partner for third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Almanzar hit .268/.328/.432 with 16 homers and 81 RBIs last season for the Boston Red Sox's Double-A affiliate and recorded a .281/.345/.477 slash line against left-handed pitching.
The Orioles lost a Gold Glover in McLouth, but Lough has been an above-average defender at all three outfield positions. Last season, he recorded 2.7 wins above replacement last season, including 1.3 on defense. The statistic grades a player's worth over a replacement player. Among other metrics, he had a plus-14.5 ultimate zone rating, ninth-best among all outfielders who played 500 or more innings, and had 15 defensive runs saved.