The Pittsburgh Pirates have found their first baseman. The Bucs are in agreement with free agent first baseman/designated hitter Rowdy Tellez. It’s a one-year pact worth $3.2 million, and Tellez can earn up to $800K in additional incentives, a source confirmed to Pittsburgh Baseball Now.
Tellez, who turns 29 in March, is coming off of a down season at the plate with the Milwaukee Brewers which resulted in him getting non-tendered earlier in the offseason. In 105 games with the Brewers in 2023, Tellez hit a dismal .215 with a .667 OPS (78 wRC+). He recorded 13 home runs and drove in 47 RBIs.
Tellez missed about a month and a half of the regular season after he was placed on the injured list on July 5 with right forearm inflammation.
It was a big step back for the left-handed hitting Tellez, who slugged 35 home runs and drove in 89 RBIs in 153 games for Milwaukee during the 2022 season. That year, he slashed .219/306/.461, good for a 110 wRC+.
While his offense dipped from 2022-23, his defense was improved at first base. After a poor showing of minus-6 defensive runs saved in 2022, Tellez was an even-zero in the category this past year. He finished the year with a .996 fielding percentage, having only committed two errors in 76 games.
In addition to first base, Tellez also has experience serving as a designated hitter, something he did in 20 games with Milwaukee last season.
There’s a previous connection between Tellez and Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington. Both were together with the Toronto Blue Jays during Cherington’s tenure in their front office from 2016-19.
Tellez was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the 30th round during the 2013 MLB draft. He spent parts of four seasons with Toronto after making his debut with the team in 2018. The Brewers acquired Tellez from Toronto in July 2021 for a pair of pitchers.
For his career, Tellez has been about a league-average hitter with a .233/.304/.446 slash (99 wRC+). He’s totaled 79 doubles, 92 home runs and 263 RBIs across 533 games.
The Pirates were in need of a left-handed hitting first base addition this offseason. Connor Joe and Jared Triolo figure to share time with Tellez at first base as right-handed hitting complements.
In his career, Tellez owns a .766 OPS agaisnt right-handed pitchers and a .694 OPS agaisnt southpaws.