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Royals trade partner history: The Orioles

These O’s aren’t Royal.

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Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

This is a series that looks back at their trade history with each team in baseball. So far, we have looked back at trades with the Braves, Cubs, and Diamondbacks. Today we look at the history of deals with the Baltimore Orioles.

Total number of Royals/Orioles trades: 21

The Orioles dominated the Royals early on in the history of the franchise, winning 23 of the first 24 matchups. Perhaps that caused some bad blood, because the Royals made two trades with Baltimore in 1970 (getting Bobby Floyd for Moe Drabowsky, and purchasing John Sullivan) then didn’t make another trade with them for 14 years. The Royals did acquire veteran Juan Beniquez from Baltimore, but most of the deals between the teams have involved dumping a player on the other. The Royals dumped Eli Marrero and Storm Davis on the Orioles, the Orioles dumped Jeff Reboulet on the Royals.

The Orioles have occasionally found value from the players the Royals dumped. Jimmy Paredes and Andrew Triggs were overlooked players with the Royals who gave Baltimore some value. I’m not ready to call the Ryan O’Hearn trade the worst between the two teams, but it’s not looking great for the Royals.

Best trade: The Royals traded Jason Grimsley to the Orioles for Denny Bautista on June 21, 2004

I’m grading this as a good trade based more on the process than the result. Grimsley had been the Royals’ most dependable (only dependable) reliever during their surprising run in 2003, and manager Tony Peña had worn him down to a nub. The Royals were hoping to contend again in 2004, picking up free agents like Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago, but it all fell apart. With the team already ten games back in the standings by mid-June, they made Grimsley available for a trade, and curiously enough, the last place Orioles came calling. Not only that, but they offered a high-upside pitcher in Double-A who Baseball America ranked #5 in their system - Denny Bautista. It seemed like a coup by Royals GM Allard Baird, who said he passed up a chance to get two mid-level prospects to get one high-ceiling prospect.

“Our lack of (high-)impact, power starters made this appealing,” said Baird at the time.

Unfortunately, the Royals just couldn’t get much out of Bautista. He appeared in 20 games over parts of three seasons with an ERA over 6 before Dayton Moore sent him to Colorado with Jeremy Affeldt for first baseman Ryan Shealy. Bautista would bounce around for seven seasons with six teams with a career ERA of 5.88.

Worst trade: The Royals traded Jeff Conine to the Orioles for Chris Fussell on April 2, 1999

Jeff Conine came up with the Royals, but they lost him to the Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft, and he became an All-Star and fan favorite in Miami. When the Marlins went into firesale mode in 1998 after their title, the Royals picked him back up in a trade, but he hit just .256/.312/.417 in 93 games in an injury-ravaged season.

He entered spring training penciled into the heart of the order. But Jermaine Dye locked down the right field starting job, pushing Conine to DH, where he’d have to compete for playing time with youngsters like Jeremy Giambi, Larry Sutton, and Mike Sweeney. When the Orioles released DH Chris Hoiles, they called the Royals, who were quick to dump Conine and his $2 million salary for pitcher Chris Fussell, a Triple-A pitcher.

It turned out the Royals needed Conine after all - Giambi got hurt and first baseman Jeff King retired a month into the season. Now healthy, he hit .291/.335/.453 with the Orioles, his first of seven consecutive seasons with an OPS+ of 100 or more. Fussell pitched in 37 games for the Royals with a 6.79 ERA and nearly as many walks as strikeouts.

Weirdest trade: The Royals traded David Lough to the Orioles for Danny Valencia on December 18, 2013

Lough was an outfielder who slowly rose through the Royals’ system and had a surprisingly good rookie season at age 27, hitting .286/.311/.413 in 96 games with terrific defense to make him worth 2.4 rWAR. But perhaps the Royals thought the performance was flukey, or they felt they had enough depth with Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, and newly acquired Nori Aoki in their outfield, with Jarrod Dyson and Justin Maxwell ready to back them up. So they flipped Lough while his value was high to Baltimore for third baseman Danny Valencia.

Valencia was a one-time Twins prospect who had bounced around and hit .304 in 52 games with the Orioles in 2013. He was a lefty killer who could platoon with struggling young third baseman Mike Moustakas. But he also had a bit of a reputation, irking some in Baltimore for his arrogance. Valencia lasted just 36 games in Kansas City where he was reportedly not well regarded in the clubhouse. The Royals moved him on to Toronto in a mid-season deal that netted pitcher Liam Hendriks and catcher Erik Kratz. Lough was a valuable reserve outfielder for the Orioles that year and faced the Royals in the ALCS that fall.