After a trade that sacrified a bishop and a knight for two pawns and a rook, the game reached the following position: (White to move.)
[FEN "2r2qk1/1b1n1pb1/p4n1p/1p4p1/4P3/1BN2P2/PPP3PP/R2Q1RK1 w - - 0 17"]
At this point the engine was evaluating the position as -1.65.
I am confused with this evaluation. After this trade, white can go Qe2 and soon take claim of the open file with a rook and it seems that all white's pieces are with good activity and the pawn structure seems better than black's, so at first glance it seems to me that not only there is material advantage (white's up a pawn) but also a positional one.
I tried looking at the engine's suggested moves to see what I was missing and the moves are obscure to me. For instance, after 1.Qe2, the engine suggests 1...Bc6 and after 2.Rfd1 it suggests 2...Nh5. Both these moves don't seem to accomplish much to me. I can see a threat of jumping the knight to f4 eventually but it does not seem so dangerous. What makes some sense to me is that the bishop in g7 will probably be able to disrupt the pawns on the queenside either by doubling the pawns on the c-file by taking the knight or by taking on b2 if white has to move the knight due to b4 or some other threat. In any case, this should take some commitment and due to white's pieces' activity it seems that this might not be easy to go unpunished or simply stopped. Furthermore, this would justify to me perhaps an evaluation closer to 0, not -1.65.
Maybe worth noticing that the engine suggests 1.Qd2 instead of 1.Qe2, but analyzing this branch wasn't very fruitful either. For instance, one variation is as follows:
[FEN "2r2qk1/1b1n1pb1/p4n1p/1p4p1/4P3/1BN2P2/PPP3PP/R2Q1RK1 w - - 0 17"] 1.Qd2 a5 2.a3 a4 3.Ba2 Ne5 4.Rad1
At this point, the evaluation is at -0.83 and I don't see a clear problem either.
This is why I'd appreciate if someone can explain why the engine likes black in the first highlighted position so much.