The Pittsburgh Pirates and third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes have reportedly agreed to an eight-year, $70 million contract extension.
Robert Murray of FanSided reported Thursday the deal includes a club option for a ninth season. It is the largest contract in Pirates history, topping the six-year, $60 million pact catcher Jason Kendall signed in 2000.
Hayes, 25, is heading into his third MLB season. He hit .257/.316/.373 with six home runs and 38 runs batted in last season while emerging as one of the best defensive third basemen in the sport. While his offensive production lagged behind expectations, he projects as a perennial Gold Glove candidate.
Hayes told Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic last August that he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh:
"I want to stay and win a championship with the team that drafted me. But I'm not really … I mean, even last year when I was going through that (contract) stuff, I wasn't really thinking too much about it. I was thankful and humbled that they considered to offer me (an extension) before I had even played a big-league game. That made me want to work even harder. But I'm not really worried about it right now. Just trying to get better every day."
The deal represents a rare financial commitment from the Pirates, whose payroll regularly ranks among the lowest in baseball. Billionaire Pirates owner Bob Nutting has cut costs at every turn and hired executives who jettison in-their-prime stars at the expense of the on-field product, earning the nickname "Bottom-Line Bob."
This deal isn't likely to create much goodwill from Pirates fans exasperated by the penny-pinching, but it could be a sign Nutting is willing to loosen the purse strings.
The Pirates have not posted a winning season since 2015.