PITTSBURGH — The Pirates’ streak of last-place finishes did not deter Ke’Bryan Hayes from making a long-term commitment,
“To be a cornerstone player for the Pirates means a lot to me,” the 25-year-old third baseman said Tuesday after a $70 million, eight-year contract was announced before Pittsburgh’s home opener against the Chicago Cubs. “I feel like we have a lot of talent in the minor leagues and we’re doing something special here.”
Hayes, a son of former major leaguer Charlie Hayes and a first-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft, had agreed last month to a one-year deal paying $715,000 while in the major leagues and $294,750 while in the minors.
His new superseding contract calls for salaries of $10 million each in 2022 and 2023, $7 million apiece in 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, and $8 million each in 2028 and 2029. The Pirates have a $12 million option for 2030 with a $6 million buyout.
Hayes reached the big leagues in 2020 and would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2023 season and free agency after 2026. He has hit .283 in 123 career games and is considered a strong defender.
The Pirates are rebuilding after trading most of their veteran players over the past two years. and their farm system is considered among the best.
“It’s time for us as an organization to put a stake in the ground,” owner Bob Nutting said.
Hayes received the largest contract in franchise history in total value. Catcher Jason Kendall got a $60 million, six-year deal after the 2000 season in advance of the Pirates moving into PNC Park.
Hayes is considered the face of the franchise. However, he says he doesn’t think that adds any pressure.
“A few years ago, I heard my dad tell someone that pressure is when you don’t know when you’re going to get your next meal, you don’t know where you’re going to sleep,” Hayes said. “For me, it’s a game that I’ve played my whole life, loved my whole life, been around my whole life.
“One thing my parents have always said to me is to be you, just go out and work hard and have fun and everything else will take care of itself.”