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Archer’s deal about more than dollars

April 8, 2014 

Tampa Bay knows how to find young baseball talent. A look at the Rays’ roster any year shows that. But now, as exhibited by the multi-year, $25 million plus contract they handed Clayton native Chris Archer last week, they’re trying to get much of that talent to stick around.

Archer, who played at Clayton High School, agreed to a deal through at least the 2019 season worth at least $25.5 million and as much as $43.5 (if the Rays pick up option years at $9 in 2020 and $11 in 2021). Typically for Archer, it’s the faith that the franchise is showing in him that is more humbling than the dollar amount. It will allow him to make sure his parents, Ron and Donna Archer, have no money worries for the rest of their lives and allow him to increase the funding of his Archway Foundation both locally and in the Tampa area.

The right-handed power pitcher’s contract will rise exponentially for each of the next few seasons: from $500,000 this year (with a $1 million contract signing bonus) to $1 million next year, then $2.75, $4.75, $6.25 and $7.5 in succession.

From a baseball perspective, Archer couldn’t be in a more promising situation with the Rays, who are a proven winner over the past half-decade and thanks to their talent and smart contractual decisions like this one aren’t going away from a steady dose of October baseball anytime soon.

For example, the Rays are in contractual control of their full starting rotation through 2015. Take star lefty David Price out of that equation and Tampa Bay controls four of its five starters through 2016. They have star third baseman Evan Longoria locked up contractually through 2022 and young standout Wil Myers is years away from any potential free agency.

Sure the Rays will always be trying to outwork the big spending of the Yankees and the Red Sox in the American League East, but they’ve proven to be just as consistent of a winner as those franchises of late.

Tampa Bay’s biggest problem as a franchise is that it’s probably the fourth most popular MLB franchise in the Tampa Bay/St. Pete area (behind the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies). But winning solves all that as it does with any franchise.

So what’s the local takeaway from the big money deal for Archer? It’s that a local kid has the background that makes an employer put their faith in him for years when they didn’t have to. Or as Rays’ executive vice president put it to the Tampa Bay Times: “As much as we're betting on his talent, we’re betting on who he is as well.”

That’s something Chris’ family, close advisor Ron Walker, his former coaches and teachers, the Clayton community and all of Johnston County can take pride in. And that’s something more valuable than any dollar figure – small or large - on a pay stub.

Johnston County Easter Invitational begins Saturday: The 24th edition of the Johnston County Easter Invitational prep baseball tournament gets rolling at noon on Saturday at South Johnston’s Bruce Coats Field. The tournament field includes five Johnston County schools this season: West Johnston, Smithfield-Selma, Cleveland and host South.

Saturday’s slate opens with West Johnston vs. SSS at noon, then Triton taking on Clayton at 2. There’s a home run derby at 4 p.m., then the nightcap duo of games with Harnett Central vs. Cleveland at 5:30 and host South Johnston taking on Bunn at 7:30.

There will be four games played on both Monday and Tuesday of next week. The semifinals are at 5 on Monday, and then the championship comes Tuesday at 7:30.

South Johnston is the defending champion, having defeated Clayton in last year’s championship game.

Perfect Pirates: Four of the top six singles players who helped Corinth Holders clinch the Two Rivers 3A Conference boys dual tennis title last week carried unbeaten league records into this week’s matches. Top-seeded William Xia, third-seeded Jake Altman, fifth-seeded Jamie Schaller and sixth-seeded Christian Green made up that group. Green and Brewington are also unbeaten in doubles play.

Best: 919-524-8895 or cbest@newsobserver.com; Twitter: @dclaybest

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