ST. PETERSBURG, FL– The Rays have locked up Chris Archer for their long-term future. On Wednesday the Rays announced they agreed to a eight-year contract with the 25 year-old right hander, six years guaranteed. The new deal includes club options in 2020 and 2021, and is expected to guarantee Archer $25.5 million, with a maximum amount of $43.75 million.
Archer expressed his gratitude to the Rays organization at a press conference at Tropicana Field Wednesday afternoon alongside Rays Executive V.P. of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman.
“It seems like this was the first team I’d ever really played for that, really believed in me,” Archer says. “So I’m greatly thankful for that.”
Andrew Friedman explained why this was the right time to secure Archer for the long-term and why he fits what the Rays are looking for.
“When we’re making a commitment like this there’s a checklist, and there’s certain things that we feel are really important,” says Friedman. “We felt like he met that extensive checklist, in terms of who he is and betting on his ability and also who he is as a person, is something we felt comfortable doing.”
Archer has thrived under the guidance of manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey. He went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 23 starts in his rookie season. He led AL rookies (min. 20 starts) in ERA, opponents’ batting average, complete games, shutouts and WHIP.
“The fact that they’re willing to make such a long-term commitment to me with less than a year of service time, that means a lot.” Archer acknowledged.
Above everything Archer summed up the moment by reminding himself of the example he sets for future generations and how he’s overcome the doubters.
“For any kid out there who has been told he can’t do something, I mean I’m living proof that you can,” Archer says. “Whatever it is, you’re fully capable of doing it if you put in 100% purpose and intent, you’ll be rewarded.”
For the Rays, they have begun to lock up potential cornerstones to the roster over the long-haul. Already they have third baseman Evan Longoria signed through 2022, and starting pitcher and Matt Moore through 2016 with three one-year club options from 2017 to 2019. Friedman explained the process behind the aggressive approach in locking up their top players.
“It goes beyond your talent, we’re also betting on the person, we’re betting on the motivation, the guys who have a burning desire to win,” Friedman says. “That’s what we’re trying to assess when going through this, but we’ve demonstrated that we’ll be aggressive when we believe in people, and that I think is front in center here today.”
Archer will make his 2014 regular season debut Thursday night against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field.