The Pirates could use a player like Starling Marte.
Not Marte himself. Not the 32-year-old version of the player.
I’m talking about the player who consistently put up a 3+ WAR in his seven full years with the team, including two 4+ WAR seasons to start his career.
Marte put up 24 WAR in his career with the Pirates.
That’s not as special as someone like Andrew McCutchen posting 41 WAR in his first seven years.
Not everyone is as special as Andrew McCutchen, though, and being one of the many good players who falls short isn’t a fault.
The Pirates could use their own version of Andrew McCutchen as well.
But, Marte wouldn’t be so bad.
Having a player who can consistently put up 3+ WAR and anchor a key part of both the offensive and defensive lineup is a guy you build around.
I sit here this morning wondering: What kind of player will Ke’Bryan Hayes become?
We’ve seen great things already from the future Gold Glove winning third baseman, and not just with his glovework.
Hayes has shown us enough so far to expect Marte-level production, and dream about McCutchen-level production.
The only thing to really discuss about Hayes right now is projecting how good he will be when it actually matters for the Pirates.
Oh, and wondering if they’ll extend him.
There was a report in March that he turned down an extension, and there has been speculation on the asking prices.
Last November, I broke down what a Hayes extension would look like at this stage in his career.
I’m not sure where he stands today, as an update to that article.
His injury this year has prevented him from playing many games, and provides the reminder that no player is a guarantee.
And yet, he doesn’t have to be on the field for long to show that he is the key to the Pirates’ building efforts, pun intended.
In that last article, I pointed out how extensions for guys with Hayes’ level of service time are rare. Among the few examples are Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez from the White Sox, and Ronald Acuna from the Braves.
Robert and Jimenez received their extensions before stepping foot in the majors. Their deals set a market price of around $50 million guaranteed for six years, and up to $75-90 million total over eight years.
Hayes has service time, and has looked good in the majors in every limited sample size.
The other example is Acuna, who received a seven year, $99.4 million deal, worth an additional $24 million over two additional years if his options are picked up.
By the time he signed this deal, Acuna had already won the NL Rookie of the Year award at age 20. His deal, with all options, would keep him signed through age-30.
Hayes, on the other hand, would have such an extension take him through his age-33 season. This adds more risk for a decline in the more expensive years.
The easy thing would be to say that Hayes should fall in the middle of these deals right now. That would be about $75 million guaranteed, with up to $100 million possible.
The difficult thing is finding out where he actually should land.
There is no other Ke’Bryan Hayes.
What other team is pondering an extension with a multi-Gold Glove capable third baseman who is also showing that he can be more than capable at the plate as well?
If an extension is reached with Hayes, it will set a guide for similar players like him in the future, while adding to the small sample of early-career extensions to provide more nuance for future discussions.
Even if it goes up to the Acuna amount, this should be a priority for the Pirates.
That’s just my opinion, as someone who has seen how difficult it has been to finally get a third baseman of Hayes’ caliber in the majors — while realizing that there’s not another Hayes in this system.