Could Pirates swiping division rival's recent DFA solve Rowdy Tellez problem?

It might be a simple fix
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

There is no doubt that the first base position for the Pirates has been a struggle in 2024...well, outside of the surprising breakout year from Connor Joe (who has been playing a lot more recently). Rowdy Tellez is the big culprit, here as the Pirates shelled out a solid contract of $3.2 million for the left-handed slugger. The Pirates were hoping to capture some of the magic that led to Tellez slugging 35 home runs in 2022, but that just hasn't been the case.

Tellez has been a disappointment in every way. The 29-year-old is hitting just .177 and only has one home run so far. It has been hard to watch Tellez struggle. He is obviously frustrated and disappointed in himself, with seemingly no way out. Ben Cherington had to go so far as to give the first baseman a vote of confidence, thinking that Tellez can get back on track. We shall see.

First base is (in theory) one of the easier positions to find production because of the offensive emphasis put on the position, but this also leads to a lot of variability and inconsistencies. This has led a lot of Pirates fans to discuss all other options to improve the position, and one of those options could make a lot of sense for the Pirates and is a familiar name. Mike Ford was recently DFA'd by the division rival Cincinnati Reds. After clearing waivers, Ford elected free agency, leaving him free to sign with whoever he wants.

The Pirates didn't place a claim on the slugger (so maybe the interest isn't there and they will continue to trust in Tellez), but they could still explore the option of signing him, maybe even on a minor-league deal. Ford might be more inclined to join the Bucs, with the possibility of taking over at first base directly in front of him, given how bad the production has been there.

Pirates first base target: Mike Ford

Ford has been inconsistent throughout his career but has also played sporadically. His greatest run of success came just last year, when he carried a Mariners offense for stretches and hit 16 home runs in just 83 games. After the season, they were looking to cut back on strikeouts overall (something that has plagued Ford throughout his career), and Ford became a casualty.

He ended up signing with the Reds on a minor-league deal and tore up Triple-A. He was hitting .297/.381/.538 with six home runs in just 24 games, but couldn't replicate that success at the major league level and was subsequently DFA'd after a rough initial stretch.

Ford may not be a significant upgrade over Tellez (or maybe even at all), but such a move would get a fresh new face in the door, and would allow Tellez to explore options elsewhere while trying to regain his previous success. Ford could form a decent platoon for the Pirates, with Connor Joe making up the other half.

It is undoubtedly time for the Pirates to consider other options at first base, for their sake and Tellez's sake. They aren't the type of team to make a dramatic move and acquire a slugger, but adding someone like Ford to the fold could be a low-risk, high-reward type of move that could pay off for the Bucs.