It may be Opening Day but that didn’t prevent the Pirates from handing out the biggest contract in team history in both years and total value. According to FanSided’s Robert Murray, the Pirates are in agreement with third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes on an eight-year $70M extension that also comes with a club option for a ninth year. The deal eclipses that six-year $60M extension given to Jason Kendall back in 2000. Hayes’ deal is pending a physical.
The $70M commitment isn’t only the biggest deal in franchise history, but it’s also the most money given to a player who had between 1-2 years of service, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post pointed out.
Hayes was already under club control through the 2026 season, but now the Pirates will have the option of keeping him in a Pittsburgh jersey through 2030, his age-33 season, if they exercise the option. It’s quite the commitment from the Pirates, and the first long-term deal we’ve seen from general manager Ben Cherington.
The 25-year-old Hayes has slashed .280/.340/.432 (109 OPS+) in 120 games with the Pirates. He’s recorded 27 doubles, four triples, 11 homers and 10 steals in that time. Hayes was hampered by injuries to his hand and wrist area in 2021 which was likely a cause of his below-average offensive output. Now that those injuries are behind him, Hayes will look to become a more productive player with that bat.
The Pirates originally drafted Hayes with the 32nd pick in the 2015 draft out of the state of Texas. He burst onto the scene in the big leagues in 2020, when he hit .376 with a 1.124 OPS and 5 homers in 24 games. While Hayes may not be an elite offensive threat, he’s more than capable at the plate.
Hayes is best known for his stellar defensive abilities and he proved it by posting 16 defensive runs saved in just 96 games last season. That mark led all Major League third baseman. He has already become one of the best defenders in the league, regardless of position.
Now that the Pirates have locked up Hayes, it remains to be seen if outfielder Bryan Reynolds will get similar treatment. The two sides have talked in the past, but there hasn’t been any news regarding recent negotiations between the two parties.
A formal announcement is expected to take place on Tuesday, when the Pirates return home to face the Cubs.