In evaluating these options, the Pirates should consider not only this season, but the seasons that follow. First base is a huge hole not only at the major league level, but across the minors as well. Attempts to fill this void have seen players stall in their development as they reached the upper minors, forcing the Pirates to be creative in their approach.
Whether they accomplish this through a platoon of Ford or Smith, or by acquiring an everyday bat like Solano, the Pirates must do something to fill the position with quality at-bats across the entire season. Whichever option they go should also still allow the Pirates to be flexible in their lineup crafting, meaning someone who can play multiple positions.
Preferred Option: Josh Naylor
Naylor is beyond the perfect fit for this hole. He gives the Pirates a solid everyday first baseman who can hit both lefties and righties, provide impact power to the middle of the order, and give the Pirates an option to play in right-field or at DH if necessary. He's also entering what would be considered his "peak years" and slowly emerging as one of the better bats in baseball.
If the Pirates would go with a platoon-oriented free agent I would like to see them add Smith over Ford for both the defensive flexibility and the fact that Smith look great in the final month of the season. I would hope, however, that the Pirates are looking for more than just a plug and play bat, rather someone who can help the Pirates now and in the future.
As the Pirates navigate the offseason, addressing the first base position will be crucial to shaping a competitive roster for the 2024 season. Whether through free agency or a trade, the Pirates must not be complacent with what they have internally and instead be proactive in finding a solution.