Potential candidates to be the next Pirate player extended

After extending Mitch Keller, who will the Pittsburgh Pirate to sign a long term contract next?

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Ke'Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds, and Mitch Keller have each been extended since the spring of 2022, who could be the next player to earn a contract extension from the Pittsburgh Pirates?

With Mitch Keller signing a five-year deal at $77 million guaranteed, this now marks three years in a row the Pittsburgh Pirates have extended one of their core players. The first was Ke’Bryan Hayes in 2022, then Bryan Reynolds in 2023, and now Keller this year. The Pirates seem more willing now than ever to hand out contracts to keep their core around for a handful of years. So with that, who could we expect to see the Pirates extend next?

Shortstop Oneil Cruz

The next prime candidate to get an extension is shortstop Oneil Cruz.

Cruz’s 2023 season came to an end before it even began. In the second week of the season, he tore his ankle while sliding into home plate. Unfortunately, he looked very promising before that. Cruz’s 2022 rookie season was solid as he batted .233/.294/.450 with 17 home runs in only 361 plate appearances. Overall, he had a 105 wRC+.

Cruz looked outstanding from mid-August 2022 onward as he hit for a .877 OPS, .377 wOBA, and 143 through his final 167 plate appearances of ‘22. Cruz has some of the most talent of any MLB player. He was in the 91st percentile of exit velocity and the 98th percentile of sprint speed. It should be fun to watch him back in action during 2024.