Johan Oviedo has been hammered as a starting pitcher during his time in the major leagues and thrived as a reliever.
However, the Pirates envision Oviedo as a potential long-term solution in the rotation after acquiring him from the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade late Monday. The Pirates also got corner infielder prospect Malcom Nunez in the deal that shipped left-hander Jose Quintana and reliever Chris Stratton to St. Louis.
“He’s kind of in the category of a guy who’s still really young.” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday about the 24-year-old Oviedo. “We see a starter’s body, starter’s delivery, starter’s repertoire and has already touched the big leagues. We think he’s not quite a finished product, and there are some specific things we see that we think we can help him with, adjustments.”
Since debuting in the major leagues in 2020, Oviedo has gone 0-9 with a 5.36 ERA in 19 starts. However, he is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA in 14 relief appearances – all coming since the Cardinals recalled him from Triple-A Memphis on June 3.
The Pirates optioned Oviedo to Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. He will begin transitioning back to a starter in the minor leagues.
“He needs runway and opportunity,” Cherington said. “We’re excited to work with him. We think he can be a starting pitcher in the big leagues. He’s not stretched out right now because of the way he was being used in St. Louis. We’ll be careful with that and initially will be in shorter outings as we get to know him and start to work with him.
“I think longer-term as we look down the road, certainly toward next year, we want to build him up and develop him as a starting pitcher. But he’s got, we believe, the ingredients to start. With a couple of specific adjustments, we think we can help him with … he’s already been there and done it some.
“It’s sort of more about hopefully some final adjustments than it is about years of pitching development,’ Cherington added. “He’s someone we’re really excited to be able to get.”
Pirates manager Derek Shelton is also looking forward to eventually having the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Oviedo on the major league roster.
“He’s a large human being — one big man with a big arm,” Shelton said with a smile. “Anytime you get somebody like that, who has that big of arm, that’s impressive. I’m excited to see what our group thinks about how we can maximize his pitch usage so we can deploy him in the right spots.”