The big news from last week is now official as the Pirates have announced the eight-year extension for third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. The deal guarantees Hayes $70M, and the Pirates have a club option for a ninth year.
“Ke’Bryan is the type of core player who is a winner on the field, a leader in the clubhouse and engaged in our community. He is the type of player who makes a true difference in the direction of our organization,” said Pirates chairman Bob Nutting. “Today isn’t about a contract, its length or the terms. Today is about our firm belief in Ke’Bryan as a player and a person, and our organization putting a stake in the ground moving forward.”
Those words from Nutting echoed the voices of many Pirates fans who want to see a stronger commitment to winning in terms of increased spending. Hayes’ deal marks the Bucs largest contract in franchise history in both length and total value. Hayes will be paid $10M in both 2022 and 2023, $7M from 2024-27, $8M in 2028-29 with a $12M club option for 2030 that comes with a $6M buyout.
The structure of the deal is quite smart for both parties. For Hayes, he gets a salary increase of over $9M for the first two years of the deal, giving him a large amount of financial security up front. By doing this from the Pirates perspective, they’ll theoretically have more money to spend when the club plans on being competitive again down the road.
“It’s been my privilege to get to know Ke’Bryan over the last two-and-a-half years. I’ve been struck not only by Ke’Bryan’s supreme talent, but by his love, passion for the game, his care for his teammates and family and his desire to win — in Pittsburgh,” said Pirates general manager Ben Cherington. “This contract is an important step toward our shared goal of winning. I’m grateful that we will get to see Ke wearing black and gold for a long time.”
The deal displays Cherington’s biggest commitment to winning since taking over as the team’s general manager in 2019. While most of the moves made have been either trading away veteran players for younger assets and short-term free agent signings, the extension to Hayes sends a clear message that the Pirates are planning to build a winner in Pittsburgh.