ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Chris Archer has done all right for a guy who was cut from his seventh grade team and once told by a coach he would never be good enough to pitch in college, let alone the major leagues.
The 25-year-old right-hander not only has a promising future with the Tampa Bay Rays, he will be paid well while trying to reach his potential.
"Not making teams, being told I was never going to play college baseball, getting traded twice, and now I'm sitting here in this seat where not many people ever get," Archer said Wednesday after finalizing a $25.5 million, six-year contract, the latest long-term deal the Rays have given to one of their young pitchers.
"Having the ability to make my parents debt-free is huge for me right now. And just the willingness from the Rays to offer such a contract for somebody with under a year of service time is remarkable," Archer added. "It was definitely something I couldn't say no to. It was a smooth, easy process."
The contract includes club options for 2020 and 2021 that could raise the value to $43.75 million.
Archer went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 23 starts as a rookie in 2013. He's scheduled to make his first start of the season Thursday against Toronto.
"It's a contract, and its guaranteed money, but I think it's just the beginning of six or eight great years," Archer said.
Tampa Bay has one of the deepest pitching rotations in baseball, as well as a history of signing its best young players to long-term contract early in their careers. Left-hander Matt Moore, a 17-game winner a year ago, signed a $14 million, five-year deal after making just one regular-season start in the majors.
Archer gets a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $500,000 this year, $1 million in 2015, $2.75 million in 2016, $4.75 million in 2017, $6.25 million in 2018 and $7.5 million in 2019. The Rays have a $9 million option for 2020 with a $1.75 million buyout, and if that option is exercised they have an $11 million option for 2021 with a $250,000 buyout.
Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said Archer has the talent to "develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter," as well as the work ethic and character off the field to ensure the Rays are making a good investment.