The Tampa Bay Rays made a proactive move on Wednesday as they signed promising starting pitcher Chris Archer to a new, six-year contract, according to the team's official Twitter feed, which also provided comments from Archer:
Archer was cut from 7th grade team. "For any kid who's been told in life you can't do something in life: You can. I'm living proof of that."— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 2, 2014
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times passed along a photo of Archer at the press conference:
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com first reported the news:
Sources: #Rays agree to six-year extension with RHP Chris Archer in range of $25M. Deal begins this season and includes two club options.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 2, 2014
Per Rosenthal, the deal will keep Archer in Tampa until 2019 with club options for the 2020 and 2021 campaigns:
Archer deal with #Rays will cover 2014 to ’19. Options are for 2020 and ’21. Technically it is a new contract, not an extension.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 2, 2014
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN confirms the details of the contract:
#Rays announce Chris Archer deal. He's guaranteed $25.5M, with a maximum value of $43.75M.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) April 2, 2014
Yahoo's Jeff Passan broke down the two club options attached to the deal:
Source: The club options on Chris Archer's deal total around $20M. If both options exercised, deal will be for eight years and about $45M.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 2, 2014
As one of the most cash-strapped teams in Major League Baseball, the Rays generally have to find creative ways to keep their top players. Archer has just 27 career big league starts to his credit, but he has the potential to be a top-flight starter moving forward.
Is this a smart signing by the Rays?
That deal has since been revised, but it put the Rays in position to keep a potential franchise player in the fold for several years to come.
General manager Andrew Friedman spoke about the decision to sign Archer (via the Rays):
Friedman on deal: "We're betting on guys who have a burning desire to be great. That's front and center here today." pic.twitter.com/qRYnOKckYO— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 2, 2014
The 25-year-old Archer currently resides at the back end of Tampa's starting rotation; however, he seems to have the stuff and the mentality necessary to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the future.
Archer posted a 9-7 record with a 3.22 ERA and 1.13 WHIP last season, which was good enough to earn him a third-place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
His role will be expanded even more in 2014, and with David Price's future in Tampa Bay very much in doubt, Archer will be a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.
Not only is Archer a supremely talented pitcher, but he is a high-character guy as well, according to Brian Bedo of WGN:
The Rays press conference is to extend Chris Archer. One of easiest players to root for in bigs. Happy for him. Gonna be a good one— Brian Bedo (@BrianBedo) April 2, 2014
Teammate David Price also commented on Archer's deal via his Twitter account:
That makes him a great fit for Joe Maddon's tight-knit club. He has transitioned seamlessly to the majors thus far, so the Rays have to be thrilled with this deal.
At the same time, there is some inherent risk involved. Archer has yet to put together a full, successful season in the big leagues. He proved last season that he could potentially be a great pitcher, but it's far from guaranteed.
The Rays don't have the same luxuries as some of the big-market clubs, though, so they need to take some chances in order to remain viable.
Tampa has struck gold with this approach in the past, and based upon what Archer has done thus far, there is reason to believe that the Rays will come out on the winning end once again.
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