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Bull's-eye: Archer, Rays hit mark with six-year deal

Righty's contract with Tampa Bay will run through 2019, with club options for '20-21

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays and right-hander Chris Archer agreed Wednesday on a six-year contract that will run through 2019, with club options for '20 and '21.

The Rays said that the deal guarantees Archer $25.5 million over the six years, and it has the potential to reach a maximum value of $43.75 million.

"There are few things in life that are guaranteed, and the Rays have guaranteed me six years for the amount that we all know, and, in turn, I'm going to guarantee to give them everything I can on and off the field," Archer said.

When asked about his motivation for getting the deal done, Archer noted that you "never turn your back on your first fortune." In addition, he wanted to get his parents free of debt and also rid himself of money worries when he's on the mound. Those reasons, coupled with the threat of injury, made the extension a no-brainer for Archer.

"I don't know if all the injuries -- the head injuries, the concussions, the elbow injuries, some shoulder injuries -- that have happened of late, I don't know if they've happened as a sign for me," said Archer, "but I took them as a sign for me, a sign of what's unknown.

"I sat down with my financial advisor. With this contract, I'm financially secure multiple times over again, through many generations. For me, that's all I ever wanted out of this game -- to be personally secure and have my family members secure as well."

Tears formed in Archer's eyes when he discussed his baseball journey and how he overcame being cut from his seventh-grade baseball team to get to where he sat on Wednesday.

"I think the way I would like to describe it is, for any kid out there who has been told that he can't do something, I'm living proof that you can," Archer said. "Whatever it is -- whether it's sports, whether it's school, whether you want to be a general manager of a baseball team or a professor, whatever it is -- you're fully capable of doing it if you put in 100 percent purpose and intent. You'll be rewarded.

"For me on so many levels, it just proves what my parents taught me, what my mentor taught me, kind of what, over the course of my career, when I was in seventh grade, I proved to myself."

Archer is just 25 years old, and he has just come into a large sum of money, which prompted the question of how he will react to having a big contract.

"I heard [Evan] Longoria say one time a few years ago that he wants to outplay his contract, and I feel like I'm in the same position," Archer sad. "So for me, my objective every time I touch the mound is to maximize my potential. Not only touch the mound, but every time I throw a warm-up throw, or warm up in the bullpen, or run a sprint, do squats -- whatever it is, I'm trying to maximize my potential. And this just allows me to do so with no thought of anything related to money."

Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman did not sound as though he or the organization had concerns about how Archer would react to having the security of a big deal.

"We started talking about it in Spring Training," Friedman said. "I think the biggest thing is when we're making a commitment like this, we're making a checklist, and we feel like there are certain things that are really important.

"Obviously ability, but also someone's character, their determination, their work ethic. There are a lot of factors that go into it. So for us, we felt like he met that extensive check list in terms of who he is and betting on his ability and who he is as a person, is something we were comfortable doing."

Friedman noted that Archer has the talent to develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter.

"And he has the drive and character to realize that potential," Friedman said. "We are very pleased to solidify his place as one of our core players for years to come."

Archer was acquired by the Rays prior to the 2011 season in a deal that sent right-hander Matt Garza to the Cubs. That trade also included outfielders Brandon Guyer and Sam Fuld, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and catcher Robinson Chirinos coming to Tampa Bay and outfielder Fernando Perez and left-hander Zac Rosscup heading to Chicago.

Archer first pitched with the Rays in 2012, going 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA in six appearances, four of which were starts. He saw his first extended Major League action in 2013, when he went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 23 starts.

Despite not joining Tampa Bay last season from Triple-A Durham until June 1, when the team played its 55th game, Archer led American League rookies who pitched at least 100 innings in ERA, opponents' batting average (.226), complete games (two), shutouts (two) and WHIP (1.13).

Archer won both the AL Pitcher of the Month and AL Rookie of the Month Awards in July after going 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in five starts that month. He finished third in the voting for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, which was claimed by teammate Wil Myers.

The Indians selected Archer in the fifth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Clayton High School in Clayton, N.C., and subsequently traded him in 2008 to the Cubs, along with two other players, in a deal for infielder Mark DeRosa.

Archer will make his first start of the season Thursday night at Tropicana Field against the Blue Jays.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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