Signing Rowdy Tellez
The Pirates signed Rowdy Tellez to a one-year deal in hopes he could recapture his 2022/early 2023 production. The big first baseman got off to a fine start to the ‘23 campaign, batting 244/.332/.494 through April and May. This included a 12% walk rate, 23.9% strikeout rate, .347 wOBA, and 118 wRC+. Tellez had gone yard a dozen times up to this point, and his .250 isolated slugging percentage was the 17th-best in baseball up to this point.
Tellez then fell into a major slump in June, registering just an 18 wRC+ in the sixth month of the season. He made it just four days into July before landing on the injured list with a forearm injury. Although Tellez was expected to return sometime soon after the All-Star break, he would miss another month after hurting his finger while shagging flyballs, causing him to get stitches.
However, even after returning in late August, Tellez couldn’t get things back on track before the end of the season. Tellez had shown a lot of promise at the start of the year, and his 11% barrel rate was well above average. However, Tellez struggled to find his swing with the injury, and while his 91.1 MPH exit velocity is similar to his 2022 mark, his barrel rate dropped to just 6.3%.
Even though it was unlikely the Pirates would land someone like Rhys Hoskins and that they’d likely settle for a platoon guy to play with Joe, even this seems like a bit of a letdown. Plus, he typically grades out as a below-average defensive first baseman. But I still believe that Tellez will rebound. What we saw from him at the start of the year is the real Tellez, in my opinion. But the bigger issue is that it feels like the team is just kicking the can further down the road at first base. They haven't had a good and consistent player at the position since Kevin Young.