HomeMLB RumorsPirates Designate Roansy Contreras, Place Ke'Bryan Hayes On 10-Day IL

Pirates Designate Roansy Contreras, Place Ke’Bryan Hayes On 10-Day IL

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2:18PM: The Pirates have officially announced the selection of Skenes’ contract and the other transactions.  Hayes’ IL designation is listed as low back inflammation.

12:53PM: Pirates GM Ben Cherington announced to Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (links to X) and other reporters that right-hander Roansy Contreras has been designated for assignment.  This move opens up a roster spot for Paul Skenes, as the star prospect is set to make his Major League debut in today’s game against the Cubs.  Cherington also revealed that third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a bad back, and infielder Alika Williams has been called up from Triple-A to take Hayes’ spot on the active roster.

It wasn’t long ago that Contreras was a notable prospect in his own right, checking into the back end of top-100 lists from Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, and MLB Pipeline prior to the 2022 season.  Acquired from the Yankees as part of the four-player return in the Jameson Taillon trade in the 2020-21 offseason, Contreras elevated his stock in his first season in Pittsburgh’s farm system, culminating in reaching the big leagues for one game before the 2021 campaign was over.  The righty then posted a 3.79 ERA in 95 innings (starting 18 of 21 games) in 2022, and looked like a promising building block within the Pirates’ rotation heading into 2023.

Unfortunately, things then went south for Contreras during a disastrous season.  He posted a 6.59 ERA over 68 1/3 MLB innings, and first lost his rotation job with a demotion to the bullpen, and then was optioned back to Triple-A altogether and didn’t pitch again in the majors after July 5.  The move to Triple-A didn’t get Contreras on track, as he had a 4.96 ERA over 32 2/3 frames for Indianapolis.  Contreras also spent some time going fully back to the drawing board with the Pirates’ Complex League team, trying to work out the mechanical problems that led to such issues a drop in his strikeout rate, an increase in his walk rate, and a minor velocity drop on his fastball.

Pitching out of the Pittsburgh bullpen this season, Contreras’ bottom-line numbers improved to the tune of a 4.41 ERA in 16 1/3 innings, and his strikeout rate rose from 18.2% in 2023 to 21.6% this year.  It still isn’t exactly an eye-catching set of results, and the Pirates have seen enough to feel comfortable in possibly losing Contreras to the waiver wire.  While the righty is out of minor league options and thus had to be DFA’ed in order to be sent to Triple-A, it still counts as a bit of a surprise to see the Bucs potentially move on from a 24-year-old who showed such potential as recently as 2022.  Odds are that Contreras will be claimed away for nothing unless the Pirates can get some kind of trade return from a particularly interested team before the end of Contreras’ DFA period.

Skenes’ first taste of the majors will come without the luxury of the game’s best defensive third baseman behind him.  Hayes hasn’t played since May 7 and he is only 2-for-26 in his last seven games, dropping his slash line to .240/.322/.318 over 149 plate appearances for the season.  Hayes has only hit one home run after he hit 15 taters in 2023, and his Isolated Power total of .078 is less than half of his .182 ISO from last year.

While Hayes has both increased his walk rate and reduced his strikeouts, it is fair to wonder if his back problem is the cause of these offensive struggles.  Hayes only had a 101 wRC+ in 2023, but getting even league-average offense from such an elite defender makes Hayes a very valuable player.  Speaking of glovework, a -9.1 UZR/150 for Hayes this season is perhaps the bigger red flag that he isn’t physically right, even if other defensive metrics (+2 Outs Above Average, +3 Defensive Runs Saved) still have a positive view of Hayes’ defense.

Jared Triolo is the only other Pirate to get any time at third base besides Hayes this season, so Triolo could be shifted from his usual second base spot over to the hot corner while Hayes is sidelined.  This would make Williams and Nick Gonzales the top options for second base, leaving the Bucs quite thin on the infield.  Llover Peguero and Ji Hwan Bae are on the 40-man roster and could be called up more easily from Triple-A if a need develops, or the Pirates could look to obtain more experienced infield help on the open market or via a minor trade.

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