The Pirates took an important step towards locking down their young core this afternoon, inking the third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes to an extension of 70 million dollars over eight years, reports Fanside’s Robert Murray. The deal, which represents both the biggest guarantee ever given to a player with between one and two years of service and the biggest deal ever given by the Pirates, will keep Hayes in Pittsburgh until at least 2029. It also includes a club option. for the 2030 season, the terms of which are not yet clear. Hayes is represented by The Ballengee Group.
The deal buys out three years of the third baseman’s free agency, which would have arrived at the end of the 2026 season barring an unscheduled demotion. Hayes, who starts his season at 25 in 2022, will now remain under the control of the team throughout his season at 32 (or 33, if the Pirates exercise his option). While he could still be in line for a solid salary at this point if he remains productive, today’s extension will likely cover the vast majority of his best years, meaning his $70 million guarantee dollars will likely make up the majority of his career earnings.
Since being promoted to the big leagues in the middle of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Hayes has been one of the few bright spots for a moribund Pirates franchise, slashing a world record .376/.442/ .682 over 95 board appearances over 24 games. His numbers came down to earth in 2021, possibly following an early season wrist injury that kept him out of action for around a third of the year and robbed him of a big part of his power. In his short career, Hayes posted a .280/.340/.442 triple slash while playing top-notch third-base defense, winning the 2021 Fielding Bible Award for third basemen (eliminating Matt Chapman and Nolan Arenado).
While keeping Hayes (the son of longtime player great Charlie Hayes) for the long haul is sure to promote some optimism among the long-suffering Pittsburgh fan base, few expect the Bucs to fight in the immediate future. After losing 101 games in 2021, GM Ben Cherington barely reloaded in the offseason, trading for the infielder Josh VanMeter and the signature of the first baseman Daniel Vogelbach and outfielder Jake Marisnick to cheap free agent deals. The club have a slew of high-end prospects on the horizon, however, including the recently optioned 6’7″ shortstop Oneil Cruz and right-handed Roansy Contreras, both of which are likely to see big league action sooner rather than later. second baseman Nicholas González and just Quinn Priest could also see the majors in 2022, while the receiver Harry Ford is probably in a year or two.
Cherington’s success in locking up Hayes for the foreseeable future draws attention to questions surrounding the centre-back’s future Bryan Reynolds, the other top talent on the Bucs’ active roster. Reynolds, who proved his struggles in 2020 luckily struggles to the tune of a .302/.390/.522 triple slash in 2021, is under club control throughout his 30-year season in 2025, reportedly refused a number of extension proposals before the 2021 season and did not re-engage with the club between the end of the season and the implementation of the lockout. He’s been the subject of endless trade rumors — he’s been directly linked to the Padres and Marlins this offseason — but Pittsburgh’s asking price is (understandably) sky-high. Even if they keep going year-over-year with Reynolds (currently a Super Two, he’ll make $4.25 million or $4.9 million in 2022, depending on the outcome of an arbitration hearing in season), the Bucs can expect Reynolds to play alongside their high-end emerging talent for at least a few years before hitting the open market.