Everyone who was complaining about the Orioles having a dull offseason suddenly has something to talk about, with the Orioles announcing a trade of 3B/DH Danny Valencia to the Royals, in exchange for OF David Lough, hot on the heels of the Grant Balfour signing. The trade goes a long way toward replacing Nate McLouth on the Orioles roster, with Lough being a left-handed outfielder who can cover all three positions. He doesn't have quite McLouth's speed, but looks to be a bit better on defense, can hit left-handed pitching at least a little bit, and oh yeah, he's a hell of a lot cheaper, too.
In order to bring in Lough, the Orioles did have to give up Valencia, which weakens their DH capabilities going into 2014, but considering that the Orioles obtained Valencia for nothing last year, and considering that he was defensively homeless and can only hit left-handers, getting anything back for him that addresses a team need is a pretty big win. I really liked Danny and his massive hot streak to end 2013, but frankly this move looks pretty shrewd at first blush for Dan Duquette.
Why, exactly? Lough didn't exactly light the world on fire in his rookie campaign in 2013, hitting .286/.311/.413 to go with 5 HR and 5 SB in about a half-season's worth of at-bats, but his defense rated highly enough to accrue 2.7 WAR, which is -- wait for it -- more than McLouth and Valencia put up combined for the 2013 Orioles. Lough, like McLouth, is a lefty, but unlike McLouth, he's not death against same-handed pitching (Lough actually hit lefties a little better than righties last year, though in limited appearances). And then let's talk about money. No one likes how badly the Orioles are making themselves look like penny-pinchers this offseason, but Lough isn't even eligible for arbitration yet, and won't be a free agent until 2020. That's an awful lot of cheap, team-controlled time if Lough's talent continues to play the way it did last year.
With Lough and rule 5 acquisition Julio Borbon, plus Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce still kicking around, the Orioles are probably done with their outfield situation, following the apparent completion of the bullpen after Balfour was signed. The loss of Valencia may necessitate a DH acquisition, and the rotation is still highly suspect, but suddenly the offseason might be moving the team toward a complete, and (dare I say it?) improved, roster heading into 2014.