The Pirates announced the signing of first baseman Rowdy Tellez on a one-year contract. It’s reportedly a $3.2MM guarantee. Tellez, who is represented by Primo Sports Group, can earn an additional $800K in incentives.
Tellez has spent the past two and a half seasons in the NL Central as a member of the Brewers. He connected on 35 home runs as recently as 2022. Tellez’s power numbers evaporated last season, as he slumped to 13 longballs through 351 trips to the plate. His slugging percentage fell from .461 to a fringy .376 mark.
Overall, the left-handed hitter turned in a .215/.291/.376 line in 106 contests this year. That’s clearly insufficient for a player whose profile is built around the bat. Tellez doesn’t offer any baserunning value and rates as a below-average defender at first base. Combined with his career-worst showing in the batter’s box, he was below replacement level in 2023.
Pittsburgh takes a low-cost roll of the dice to see if Tellez can recapture some of his previous form. He carried a career .236/.307/.462 line into last season. While that’s still middling production from an average and on-base perspective, he’d shown legitimate power upside. Tellez’s 2023 numbers may have been impacted somewhat by health questions. He lost a couple weeks in July with right forearm inflammation before sustaining a fracture on the ring finger of his left hand in an outfield collision while chasing fly balls during batting practice. That kept him out of action until the middle of August.
The 28-year-old was eligible for arbitration for a final time this offseason. Milwaukee declined to tender him a contract at a projected $5.9MM salary. He’ll indeed come up shy of that figure on the open market but he’ll get a big league opportunity for a rebound showing. Tellez will surpass six years of service time next season and return to free agency at year’s end.
Pittsburgh had a clear need for first base help. The Bucs trade Carlos Santana at the deadline, sending the veteran switch-hitter to Milwaukee in a move that was necessitated for the Brewers by Tellez’s struggles and injuries. Pittsburgh relied mostly on Alfonso Rivas down the stretch; they waived him at season’s end and lost him to the Guardians. Santana returned to free agency, leaving the potential for a reunion, but the Bucs will take what is likely to be a lower-cost shot on Tellez instead.
A left-handed hitter, Tellez seems a likely platoon partner for Connor Joe. The…