Pirates Acquire Dana Eveland, Filling Glaring Need For Bad Soft-Tossing Lefty Starter

The Pirates have traded right-handed AA reliever Ronald Uviedo to the Toronto Blue Jays for 26-year-old left-handed starting pitcher Dana Eveland, who was recently designated for assignment by Toronto in the midst of a monumentally unsuccessful season.

Let’s break down the deal and Neal Huntington’s possible rationale for this bizarre move into two sections: The Bad and The Not Quite As Bad.

The Bad:

Eveland’s last two partial seasons in the majors have been objectively across-the-board terrible. In 88 2/3 innings, he’s allowed 127 hits and an abominable 53 walks to just 43 strikeouts, posting an unsightly 6.80 ERA. He hasn’t had a dominant minor league season since his 2006 campaign at the age of 22, and he most recently posted an unimpressive 1.484 WHIP in 124 AAA innings last year at the age of 25.

In short, he’s been a crappy starting pitcher for two seasons, he’s no longer of prospect age, and he was about to be released by the Blue Jays if they couldn’t find a trade partner (presumably, some team was poised to claim him on waivers, or the Pirates would’ve just waited and picked him up for free). The Pirates’ starting rotation is indeed terrible, but adding a hit-happy no-strikeouts lefty in the midst of two terrible seasons to a rotation that already includes Zach Duke and Paul Maholm (and possibly Brian Burres for a little while) seems borderline torturous.

The Not Quite As Bad:

Ronald Uviedo is 23 and has posted more than a strikeout per inning for AA Altoona this season, but he’s supposedly fly ball prone and projects as a run-of-the-mill righty reliever, and we already know Neal Huntington’s aversion to overvaluing relievers (or valuing them at all), so Uviedo was likely viewed by the organization as an expendable commodity at a position that’s much easier and cheaper to restock than a starting rotation spot.

Eveland has indeed been terrible of late, and his stock’s rock bottom and he’s no longer a prospect, but he’s also still 26 and under reasonably priced team control for a few years, so the dude’s also not Matt Morris. He’s moving from the AL East to the NL Central and pitching in an extremely lefty-pitcher-friendly ballpark, and he’ll have the time and organizational patience behind him to have a couple cracks at turning his career around without the win-now pressure of another organization.

If he catches on, he could provide a valuable innings-eating service to a starting rotation in shambles, and he offers a teeny tiny bit more upside than Jeff Karstens or Brian Burres, even if his recent record has been even spottier than theirs. Huntington clearly views Uviedo as expendable, or at least expendable to the point of being worth taking a gamble on a player with even the slightest outside chance of being a major league starting pitcher.

I can’t imagine Eveland sticking around in the rotation in the long term unless the Pirates have spotted something very specific in his delivery that he needs to correct, and if that happens, even if he’s mediocre, the trade will have been a win, but if I’m a betting man, I’m finding it very very difficult to expect any outcome here other than Eveland continuing to be terrible, just in a different league.

Let’s all jinx it together: He can’t possibly be worse than Charlie Morton though, right? [PNC Park explodes]


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