The Pirates are reinstating Ke’Bryan Hayes from the 60-day injured list, the team announced. Wil Crowe has been optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear active roster space. Hayes is hitting second and starting at third base in this evening’s game against the Marlins.
Hayes is arguably the most important player in the Pirates organization, so his return is a welcome development for the team and its fans alike. The 24-year-old entered the year as a popular pick to win the NL Rookie of the Year award after he burst onto the scene in 2020. Hayes, known more for his elite glove than his bat in the minors, made his MLB debut last September and hit a spectacular .376/.442/.682 over his first 95 plate appearances. No one reasonably expected him to duplicate that kind of production, but the offensive outburst coupled with his sterling defensive reputation makes it easy to envision Hayes as a cornerstone position player whom the rebuilding club can build around over the next few years.
Unfortunately, a left wrist injury sent him to the injured list just two games into the regular season. While Hayes wasn’t initially expected to miss much time, he suffered a setback in late April that has kept him out of major league action for the past two months. In his absence, the Pirates have turned to Erik González, Phillip Evans and Wilmer Difo at the hot corner to dreadful results. Pittsburgh third basemen have hit just .201/.254/.282, which ties the Royals group for the worst offensive output at the position in the league.
Crowe, acquired from the Nationals as part of the Josh Bell deal last winter, has made eight appearances (seven starts) this season. They’ve not gone well, as the righty has only managed a 7.26 ERA/5.06 SIERA with worse than average strikeout and walk rates (19.3% and 11.7%, respectively). The Pirates viewed the 26-year-old as a big league ready rotation arm when they brought him in, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back in the majors in relatively short order if he can get on track in Indianapolis. The 20-34 Bucs aren’t contenders, so the primary focus this season is determining whether younger, cost-controlled players like Crowe can be a part of the organization’s long-term future.
Hayes’ activation from the 60-day IL required the opening of a 40-man roster spot. Right-hander JT Brubaker, who went on bereavement leave last weekend, has been placed on the COVID-19 IL while he goes through intake testing protocols. That temporarily creates the 40-man vacancy for Hayes’ return, although the club will need to make another 40-man move once Brubaker clears the intake process.