Report: Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates Discussing Long-Term Contract Extension

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 2, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: Ke'Bryan Hayes #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 24, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates extended a long-term contract offer to Ke'Bryan Hayes, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Hayes is under team control for two more seasons before his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2024. The 25-year-old third baseman is unable to hit the open market until 2027 at the earliest.

The Athletic's Rob Biertempfel and Ken Rosenthal reported that Hayes and his representatives thought Pittsburgh's offer was "insufficient."

The level of fan dissatisfaction in Pittsburgh has been building for some time, and this offseason has generated more frustration toward ownership and the front office.

The Pirates drew a line in the sand with 2021 All-Star Bryan Reynolds and are planning to take him to arbitration over what amounts to $650,000.

Jason Mackey @JMackeyPG

This could &amp; should happen with the Pirates &amp; Bryan Reynolds.<br><br>Reynolds $4.9 M, Pirates $4.25 M. Discussions, as I understand, were closer than $650 K<br><br>Find a midpoint. Screw the file-and-trial precedent nonsense.<br><br>New rule: If your fWAR is over 5, we'll adjust file-and-trial. <a href="https://t.co/vpb1I3zX3q">https://t.co/vpb1I3zX3q</a>

They also optioned one of their top prospects, Oneil Cruz, to their Triple-A affiliate in what seems like a clear case of service time manipulation.

Bob Pompeani @KDPomp

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pirates?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Pirates</a> Option ONeil Cruz to Triple-A... <br><br>I am not a fan of this...he's 24 year old...How long does he stay if he is one of your top prospects and NOBODY is blocking him

And Pittsburgh is on pace to carry MLB's third-lowest payroll ($37.9 million) ahead of a season that will likely prolong its playoff drought to seven years.

Tying down a new deal for Hayes would at least represent some good news.

The Texas native delivered elite-level defense at the hot corner in 2021.

His work at the plate was another story. Hayes had six home runs, 38 RBI and a .257/.316/.373 slash line in 96 games. That likely offered a snapshot of what to expect considering he posted a .754 OPS over six seasons in the minors.

Granted, some of his offensive struggles could be chalked up to the wrist trouble that dogged him throughout the season.

Hayes' defense alone was a reason for the Pirates to be optimistic about his value going forward, and extending him a contract offer is evidence of where he fits into the front office's plans.

Working out a new contract that covers at least the first few years of his free agency could benefit both parties.

Pittsburgh would potentially get him at a lower rate than he'd command on the open market, and Hayes would hedge his bets and have a level of financial security.

This pursuit could backfire for the Pirates, though, if they wind up consistently lowballing Hayes, thus antagonizing one of their better players and further inflaming the fanbase that wants to see ownership make a bigger financial commitment.