It was earlier in the week when Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes inked his eight-year contract extension that guaranteed the 25-year-old $70M. The deal also comes with a $12M club option for a ninth season, meaning the Pirates can keep Hayes in the black and gold through 2030.
On Thursday, the Pirates announced that they agreed to a two-year deal with Bryan Reynolds, avoiding an arbitration hearing this year and avoiding the possibility of one next year too. The deal pays Reynolds $6.75M both this year and next.
The news sure came as a delight to a number of his teammates, including Hayes. “I’m glad that he’s still with us,” said Hayes of this 2021 National League All-Star teammate. “It’s amazing to have a guy like that, middle of the order type of guy who is in contention for the Gold Glove, All-Star, all that stuff last year,” he added.
The news encouraged Hayes who said that part of the reason he signed the extension was because he feels like the Pirates are moving in the right direction. Both moves, while different in significance, surely encouraged a fanbase that has been frustrated for quite some time. In keeping Hayes around for the long haul and avoiding an arbitration hearing with Reynolds, the Pirates did take a couple steps forward.
Hayes agrees. “I feel like it’s a step in the right direction. I’m sure the fans are ecstatic about it. I just feel like we’re moving in the right direction [with] all the young guys that we have down in the farm system.”
Hayes is looking forward to the duo playing a full season together. Last season, injuries limited Hayes to just 96 games, so having both healthy for the Bucs would come as a big boost. “I’ve played with Bryan since Double-A in 2018. Just having a guy like that in the lineup, switch-hitter that has pop form both sides, he can run, steal bases… having him in the lineup is awesome.”
The deal itself was a savvy way for the Pirates to avoid breaking their precedence of operating as a file and trial club. It’s also a plus that both sides avoided going through a similar ordeal next season. In turn, Reynolds gets a nice salary boost this year, even from his ask of $4.9M for 2022.
It may not be the long-term extension many were hoping for, but surely the door remains open for further extension discussions. Arbitration hearings can get ugly, so not only did the Pirates avoid reaching that point, but they may have found some good grace with Reynolds with this deal.
For the first time in a long time, it feels like the Pirates are pushing the right buttons when it comes to decisions with their players and building for the future.