Rowdy Tellez’s time with the Pirates could be nearing its end

The end is near for Rowdy Tellez and his tenure in Pittsburgh.
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Rowdy Tellez to a one-year deal worth $3.2 million this past off-season. The hope was that Tellez could rebound closer to how he looked in 2022 and in the first two months of 2023. In this time span, which consisted of 783 plate appearances, Tellez posted a respectable .225/.312/.469 triple-slash, .332 wOBA, and 112 wRC+. Tellez posted an above-average 10.7% walk rate with a quality of 21.1% K%. Power was a big part of his game, and he hit 47 home runs. Only ten other players had more home runs than Tellez.

But Tellez had problems with his forearm in June of last year and barely played after that in 2023. In the instances in June Tellez did play, he had just a 56 wRC+. The Pirates, looking for a platoon mate for Connor Joe, decided to take the gamble on Tellez, but it hasn't worked out whatsoever, and that might be putting it kindly.

As of now, Tellez's performance has been nothing short of disappointing, with a dismal .184/.252/.234 through 119 plate appearances. His wOBA stands at a mere .227, and his wRC+ at 42. Tellez's strikeout rate has increased to 24.4%, while his walk rate has decreased to 8.4%. Most notably, his power, the part of his game that made him productive, has vanished, with no home runs since March 31st. 

Tellez is simply having one of the worst seasons in franchise history. There have been 1160 times when a player collected at least 110 plate appearances in a season while playing for the Pirates since integration in 1942. Tellez's 2024 ranks bottom 50 in wRC+, OPS, and wOBA. On top of that, his fielding has been mediocre and he's made some blunders at first base. Fans are completely fed up with him.

But Tellez's time in Pittsburgh might be coming to an end. According to Andrew Destin of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, if Tellez does not start to heat up by the end of May, it seems likely that the Pirates will cut ties with the veteran first baseman.

Rowdy Tellez has two more weeks with the Pirates to figure it out and the chances he does are slim.

It's very unfortunate that Tellez has been such a letdown. I for one had some expectations that he could at least rebound to his 2022 self. Coming into this year, he had a career .769 OPS, .317 wOBA, 108 OPS+/99 wRC+, and averaged about 21 home runs every 400 plate appearances. But he simply hasn't been what me, nor the Pirates, expected.

If and when Pirates ultimately decide to move on from Tellez, it will close out one of the most unproductive tenures in the franchise's long history. Tellez already has -0.8 fWAR in just 40 games. Somehow, that's not the worst in baseball right now, but it's down there. It will also open the door for someone else to get more playing time at first base. Connor Joe has been scorching hot with an OPS currently approaching .900. Jake Lamb has been great for Triple-A Indy this year and has a 158 wRC+ with nearly as many walks (17) as K's (18). Regardless of who it is, they can't be worse than Tellez.