Earlier today I saw that the Pirates were preparing to claim Dana Eveland from the Toronto Blue Jays. Eveland had been designated for assignment on May 23rd by the Blue Jays, after posting a 6.45 ERA in 44.2 innings in Toronto’s rotation.
Then I saw that the acquisition wasn’t a waiver claim, but was actually a trade, with the Pirates sending Ronald Uviedo to Toronto in exchange for Eveland. I will say that I’m a fan of Eveland. He’s had horrible numbers in his major league career, but he’s shown flashes of his potential, and could still be a decent back of the rotation starter, or at this point a solid bullpen option at the least. When I saw they were going to claim him, I liked the move. Can’t be any worse than Brian Burres or Jeff Karstens. However, that all changed when I saw it was a trade, and that the trade involved Uviedo.
I’m a fan of Eveland, but I’m a bigger fan of Uviedo. I’ve seen Uviedo pitch a lot, and he’s impressed me every time. He’s got good movement on his pitches, and a good demeanor out of the back of the bullpen. Uviedo posted a 3.36 ERA in 101.2 innings in 2009 at the high-A level, working mostly as a starter, then switching to relief at the end of the year. Uviedo had a 7.0 K/9 and a 2.5 BB/9, with a 1.1 HR/9 ratio being his big problem. Uviedo was much better as a reliever, with a 17:7 K/BB ratio in 19.1 innings, and a .147 BAA.
In his jump to AA, Uviedo has put up a 3.22 ERA in 22.1 innings, with a 28:12 K/BB ratio, and a 1.12 WHIP. Uviedo has still been bothered by home runs, with a 1.2 HR/9 ratio, but has looked good out of the back of the Altoona bullpen, and probably should have been a candidate to be promoted to AAA soon.
Then there’s Dana Eveland. Eveland looked really good this year with Toronto at the start of the season. He posted a 1.93 ERA in his first three starts, spanning 18.2 innings, with a 9:7 K/BB ratio and one homer allowed. He was shelled by Boston in his next start, allowing seven runs on eight hits in three innings, with three walks and three strikeouts. Eveland rebounded, allowing four runs in 13.2 innings over his next two starts, but struggled with his control, with a 4:7 K/BB ratio. Then he was hammered by Boston again, allowing six runs on six hits in four innings. After that, Eveland fell apart, allowing 11 runs in his final 5.1 innings over his final two starts with Toronto.
Eveland has shown flashes of potential in his career. In 2008 he posted a 3.34 ERA in 97 innings over the first three months of the season, with a 65:46 K/BB ratio. In the final three months he struggled with a 5.70 ERA in 71 innings, with a 53:31 K/BB ratio. At the AAA level he has a 3.63 ERA in 277.2 innings, with a 7.7 K/9 and a 3.4 BB/9. That’s impressive, considering he pitched out of the PCL.
Eveland’s biggest problem has been control, with a 4.7 BB/9 ratio in his major league career. It’s worth a shot to see if the Pirates can get something out of him. He’s 26 years old, and has three years of service time remaining after this season. I just don’t like the price the Pirates paid to get Eveland. Neither Eveland nor Uviedo are a guarantee. You’re talking about a back of the rotation starter candidate, or a middle reliever in Eveland, compared to a back of the bullpen reliever candidate in Uviedo. Considering Eveland has had success above the AA level, and that Uviedo only has 22.1 innings above A-ball, the trade is in favor of the Pirates. But that’s only if the trade is weighed in a vacuum, and that’s not the case here.
This is the second time Eveland has been designated for assignment this calendar year. Previously he was acquired from Oakland for a player to be named later or cash considerations. To my knowledge, no player was sent to Oakland for Eveland. I like the risk of Eveland, but not enough to give up Uviedo, especially when Eveland was had for so much less just a few months ago, and hasn’t really done much to improve his stock since then. Having followed Eveland for a few years, and having personally seen Uviedo pitch, I’d bet that Uviedo will end up the more productive player a few years down the road.
In short, I like the addition of Eveland, but the price paid makes it not even worthwhile. The Pirates gave up one of their top relief pitching prospects to get a guy who was acquired for much less several months ago, and who isn’t really an essential addition to the team at this point. I think if I were given the choice, I’d take Karstens and Uviedo over the upgrade that Dana Eveland provides over Karstens, and if Eveland fails to improve on his numbers so far, that upgrade might not even exist.