Rays, Archer agree on eight-year contract

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-The Rays have agreed to an eight-year contract with right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, with the first six years guaranteed. The contract includes club options for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and is expected to guarantee Archer a total of $25.5 million, with a maximum value of $43.75 million.

"When we make a long-term commitment to a player, we look not only at his talent but also his intangibles," said Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. "There's no question Chris has the talent to develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter, and he has the drive and character to realize that potential. We are very pleased to solidify his place as one of our core players for years to come."

Archer, 25, finished third in the 2013 Jackie Robinson American League Rookie of the Year voting and was the top pitcher listed on the ballot. He went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA (128.2-IP, 46-ER) in 23 starts as a rookie. Despite not joining the Rays from Triple-A Durham until June 1, he led AL rookies (min. 20 starts) in ERA, opponents' batting average (.226), complete games (two), shutouts (two) and WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched, 1.13). In the last 20 seasons, only two AL rookie starting pitchers have posted a lower ERA: teammate Jeremy Hellickson in 2011 and Orlando Hernandez for the 1998 New York Yankees. 

In the month of July, Archer went 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA (37-IP, 3-ER) in five starts with only 17 hits allowed. For his efforts, he was named AL Pitcher of the Month and AL Rookie of the Month-only the third AL rookie to win multiple monthly awards, following Hellickson (May 2011) and Mike Trout (July 2012) for the Los Angeles Angels. His 0.73 ERA was the lowest in major league history by a rookie in the month of July.

Archer thrived against American League East competition in 2013, going 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA (58.1-IP, 16-ER) in 10 starts, including 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA (22-IP, 3-ER) in three starts vs. the Yankees. He became the first rookie to record three wins vs. New York since Kevin Brown for the Texas Rangers in 1989.

The Clayton, N.C., native created the Archway Foundation in his hometown to teach youth that "the legacy they leave behind should not be one of fortune or fame, but rather a legacy of generation, integrity and passion." More information can be found at archwayfoundation.com. In 2013, he visited the Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Center to speak to the young men and women living there. He plans to continue his visits there in 2014. In the past year, Archer has also been involved with All Children's Hospital, the Boys and Girls Club, the Academy (an alternative high school in Port Charlotte) and Good Sports, a nonprofit organization that provides equipment, apparel and footwear to youth programs in need.

The Rays acquired Archer from the Chicago Cubs as part of an eight-player trade on Jan. 8, 2011, which sent right-handed pitcher Matt Garza to Chicago. He was originally selected by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round of the 2006 June Draft out of Clayton High School and was traded to Chicago on Dec. 31, 2008.

Archer makes his first start of the season tomorrow night against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.