Chris Cotillo reported this morning that the Tampa Rays have signed Chris Archer to a six-year extension with a pair of team options on the back end of it. It is interesting to note that the Rays continue to be at the forefront of getting their young players signed to team-friendly extensions. Along with James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Evan Longoria, Matt Moore, and Wade Davis I guess. And, in consideration of the latter contract, they also have the remarkable ability to jettison the materiel when it becomes relatively apparent that it will become an albatross in the near future (or, if not an albatross, certainly some kind of Spruce Moose).
It also begs the question as to why more teams aren't doing this as often as the Rays seem to. Well, Atlanta has certainly taken some cues lately, locking up several of their young players on long-term deals. The Royals as well have managed to go to the table with shortstop Alcides Escobar, and even more prevalently with catching Wunderkind Salvador Perez, who may claim (though to his financial detriment) the most team-friendly contract in major league history. So maybe other teams are starting to come around, specifically when you consider the changing landscape of free agency due to qualifying offers, expanding revenues, and the continued implosion of the Super Aggro-Crag that is the $100 million deal. But none of them seem to be doing it with the staid consistency of the Tampa Bay Rays, who as much out of financial necessity continue to work this decade's market inefficiency.
So, Chris Archer. He's going to get paid a decent chunk of change, and really what this amounts to is the team and player agreeing on fixed amounts for his arbitration years. The team hedges their bets against the possibility of the player earning unseemly (read: earned) amounts through the arbitration process while also giving them some options on a couple of free agent years down the road, if they so choose.
The AAV of Archer's guaranteed years is $4.25 million which, if you are keeping track at home, is less money than fungible pitching commodities such as Wade Davis (relevant!), Luke Hochevar (injured!), Bruce Chen (old!), and a slew of other players that aren't on the Royals roster. He will, in effect, need to be worth about 0.6667 Wins Above Replacement per season for this to be a break-even deal. To put that in perspective, Archer has already earned 1.7 WAR in his first 158 professional innings.
So the Rays made another good deal, and it would be easy to say that Archer left money on the table, but when you are staring at $25 million guaranteed versus the possibility of an injury wrecking your earning power (which is a distinct possibility where pitchers are concerned), it is hard to really deem it a mistake. If someone guaranteed me a salary over the next six years that was about 80-85% of what I might hope to earn (with no assurance whatsoever) I'd be hard-pressed not to take it.
Two parties agreed to a mutually beneficial arrangement. It doesn't always have to be about winners and losers. But. let's be fair, the real winners are the fans.