ST. PETERSBURG — The money was staggering, Chris Archer admitted, much more than he could have ever imagined making playing baseball.
But what meant as much to Archer in agreeing to a long-term deal worth up to $43.75 million over eight years was the faith the Rays showed in investing in him.
"This is the first team I've ever really played for that really believed in me," Archer said.
Cut from his seventh-grade squad, told he wasn't good enough to play college ball, traded by the Indians and the Cubs before getting through the minors, Archer teared up while reflecting on his path that led to Wednesday's news conference at the Trop.
"For any kid out there who has been told that he can't do something," he said, "I'm living proof that you can."
The 25-year-old right-handed starter will be guaranteed $25.5 million over six seasons (assuming, as expected, he gains Super Two arbitration eligibility) and the Rays hold options, worth $9 million and $11 million, for his first two years of free-agent eligibility in 2020 and 2021.
The $25.5 million is believed to be the most money guaranteed to a player — who was not an international free agent — with less than one year of service time.
"Remarkable," Archer said.
Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said Archer met the "extensive checklist" the Rays have for making such an investment, such as talent, personality, character and attitude, specifically to use the security of the deal to relax and play better rather than taking it easy.
"As much as we're betting on his talent, we're betting on who he is as well," Friedman said.
Archer's deal is similar, though a little richer, than the pact left-hander Matt Moore signed after 2011, giving the Rays control of two top young starters for at least six seasons, and at potentially below-market salaries.
Archer will get a $1 million signing bonus and $500,000 this year, plus future salaries of $1 million, $2.75 million, $4.75 million, $6.25 million and $7.5 million, with a $1.75 million buyout of his 2020 option.
The Rays approached Archer in spring training about a deal, negotiations concluding Saturday with a deadline for resolution before he started tonight.
Archer's consideration of the offer and its implications was thorough. In addition to weighing advice from his agent, financial adviser and other players who'd been in similar situations, he took note of the spate of injuries to other pitchers illustrative of how quickly a career can change.
"I took them as a sign," he said. "I really believe in divine synchronicities."
With greatness in his arm and kindness in his heart, Archer said he plans to make his parents — technically his maternal grandparents, who raised him — debt-free and expand his community and charitable efforts through his Archway Foundation. And, of course, to do his best for the Rays.
"There are few things in life that are guaranteed," Archer said. "The Rays guaranteed me six years for the amount we all know and in turn I'm going to guarantee to give them everything I possibly can on and off the field to represent this organization."
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.
The Rays have the pieces of their rotation in place.
Pitcher Controlled through
LHP David Price 2015
Deal: $14M in '14, arb-eligible in 2015
RHP Alex Cobb 2017
Deal: $517K, arb-eligible '15-'17
LHP Matt Moore 2019
Deal: Five years, $14M through '16, three team options
RHP Chris Archer 2021
Deal Six years, $25.5M through '19, two team options
RHP Jeremy Hellickson 2016
Deal: $3.625M in '14, arb-eligible '15-'16
RHP Jake Odorizzi 2019
Deal: $503K in '14; arb-eligible '17-'19
Source: Times research