The Pirates have launched exploratory talks with at least four players about possible long-term deals, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports on Twitter. Jon Heyman of MLB Network had previously reported that the club intended to explore deals of this kind with some young talent.
Among the targets are outfielder Bryan Reynolds, middle infielder Kevin Newman, and starter Joe Musgrove — all relatively youthful, quality MLB players. The Bucs have also approached top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes, per the report.
As we discussed when the initial news arose, this is hardly surprising in the full context. The Bucs, like many lower-budget organizations, have long relied upon early-career extensions to achieve value. And there are indications that there’s a broader push to lock up relatively inexperienced players around the game, though we’ve yet to see an onrush of dealmaking.
There are some interesting elements here, though. Hayes is an especially intriguing target since he has yet to appear in the big leagues. That’s no longer a barrier to an extension, as we’ve seen several such accords, but it’s also not exactly commonplace.
Most recently, Luis Robert lined up on a $50MM deal — a record-setting number for a pre-MLB player. But he has risen to the ranks of the the most elite prospects in the game. And he had already secured a huge bonus ($26MM) when he signed as an amateur. Suffice to say, Robert had ample leverage.
Hayes is generally regarded as one of the fifty or so best prospects in the game, so he’s not to Robert’s level of future expectations. Perhaps a better comparable is Scott Kingery, who was promised $24MM in his agreement with the Phillies two years back. It’s arguable the market has moved north since that time, so Hayes would be justified in viewing that as a starting point.
Also of note: the lack of talks — so far as is known publicly — between the Pirates and star first baseman Josh Bell. The Bucs already agreed to a $4.8MM arbitration salary with the 27-year-old, who is coming off of a breakout 2019 season. Bell would surely cost a far sight more than any of the players listed above.