Dayton Moore strikes again. Another trade, this one an exchange of David Lough for Danny Valencia. Lough, despite accruing 2.4 fWAR in 96 games, was not likely to factor in to the Royals 2014 plans after they acquired Norichika Aoki. With Aoki, Gordon, Cain, Maxwell, Dyson, and Lough, someone had to go. Like the Will Smith-Aoki trade, the Royals have traded from a position of surplus to fill a position of need. I support this line of thinking. Lough’s value came from defense; he was merely average-ish at the plate but has poor plate discipline. Since Aoki offers good defense with better offense, Lough wasn’t going to play much, so it makes sense to trade him.
In return, the Royals received 3b Danny Valencia from the Orioles. Valencia accrued 0.9 fWAR in 52 games mostly as a DH. Valencia, like Lough, does not have great plate discipline, but he has power. There is a caveat-this power is manifest against only LHP. Valencia’s career batting line against LHP is .329/.367/.513, while his RHP batting line is a dumpster fire. Though he has not played enough in his career to make concrete assumptions about his split tendencies, we can say that Valencia is likely a decent hitter against LHP and a lesser hitter against RHP. Many hitters are good against the opposite-handed pitcher, so this is probably a real thing.
Unfortunately, Valencia has not been rated as a good defender throughout his career. He hasn’t really played a full season at third base since 2011, so those numbers have to be cautioned. Valencia could still be a serviceable defender at third, but he is not better than Moustakas in this aspect. Given that the Royals emphasize fly balls, having a poor defensive third baseman doesn’t hurt them as much as it might hurt other teams. The Royals can afford to punt on defense for a part-time player in this instance.
As a third baseman, Valencia will share time with Mike Moustakas. Moustakas is still young, but he hasn’t really showed offensive prowess worth keeping on the field for 162 games. Moustakas also has the opposite platoon split as Valencia. Hopefully, the Royals’ line of thinking goes along the line of never playing Moustakas against lefties and never playing Valencia against righties. According to Jeffrey Flanagan, Moore states that there won’t be a platoon, but that doesn’t mean Yost won’t “match up in certain situations”. The Royals publicly don’t want to give up on Moose yet, and I can’t blame them for that. Moore’s statement is PR spin. If the Royals didn’t plan on platooning Moose, they probably wouldn’t have acquired a player who platoons with him perfectly. This is just another move in what is shaping up to be a very solid offseason. Not only do I like the players themselves involved in these transactions, I generally support the thought process behind the acquistions. This move may not really have a large effect, but it should increase run production and perhaps even get an extra win or two. Extra wins are nice.