We are only one game into the Major League Career of Ke’Bryan Hayes and the Pirates fanbase is already captivated by the potential of this young man; crowning him the third basemen of the future and the cornerstone of the build that first year General Manager Ben Cherington has spoken so much about since taking the helm in November of 2019. This wave of emotions from the Pirates faithful began once the season officially resumed and reached it crest just prior to Monday’s trade deadline. It was always building, but obviously gained more momentum as the Pirates limped to a 10-22 record, clearly one of the worst in all of Major League Baseball. Social media was filled with calls to free Ke’Bryan Hayes, as evident by the Pirates post on Tuesday and their prayers were ultimately answered, BUT no one seems to be thinking about what comes next.
In bringing Hayes up this year, at this time, there was no penalty concerning the extra year of control as we have already passed the threshold for that date. However, there was still the Super Two status for next year that needed to be taken into consideration. Many times clubs have waited to elevate players and made up excuses as to why they needed to be held out in order to keep a player under team control. Kris Bryant is one of the shining examples of this exact scenario for anyone who followed along with his grievance against Major League Baseball and if you are unfamiliar with the circumstances surrounding the situation please look it up as it was a slap in the face to each and every player who is just trying to get what they deserve, but we can save that battle for another day. For now let’s get back to Ke’Bryan Hayes.
After being called up or recalled to be more specific, Hayes still has three pre-arbitration years, followed by three years of arbitration before he reaches free agency, which would take him through 2026. Obviously they could have manipulated this further and technically still could, but to what end? He is up now and I see no reason to stop the development, exposure and clock moving forward. So here we sit; a potential piece of the puzzle on our hands and an off-season to contemplate our next move. How would you deal with this situation? In order to answer this question I think we need to go back in time for a few months, to before the point when the world got turned upside down and baseball was put on the back burner.
Prior to the original start of the 2020 season the idea had been floated around of extending the young third baseman before he even took one rep in the Major League, much like the Chicago White Sox had done with Luis Robert.
Obviously these discussions didn’t result in contracts for any of these players, including Hayes. However, is it something they could still explore, even after Hayes made his big league debut against the Cubs a couple of nights ago?
First of all, before you get the wrong idea, I am not bringing this up based on one performance from an exciting young player. That’s not how my brain operates. I would be just as apt to let him walk after his years of team control and arbitration were over if I didn’t think he could help the ball club. It really makes no difference to me. However, based on his defensive track record and flashes of above average offensive production, I believe that all options need to be considered and evaluated. Luckily for General Manager Ben Cherington the Pirates have the rest of the season to evaluate his play.
As soon as I learned that Hayes was being brought up I started to consider this as an audition to determine the level and length of contract that would suit a player of Hayes’ caliber or if he deserves one at all by establishing what that caliber he is. Now I am not saying that it going to be an easy decision or that it is even going to happen, just that they need to be cautious concerning who they decide is going to be a part of the future and who is not because the last thing a team in a build needs is to be upside down in a contract like they currently are with Gregory Polanco.
In the end we all know that this decision is based one thing, money. For a team that isn’t going to go out and spend in free agency or on their own players at times, creativity has to be used to keep the costs down and maintain control of players. And this is just one way, with one player, that they can accomplish this goal.