Chris Archer is a nice young pitcher, and I’m sure he’ll do great things for the Tampa Bay Rays. But on Wednesday, the 25-year-old righty signed a big contract that was yet another example of how baseball must be incredibly healthy money-wise.
Archer and the Rays agreed to a six-year, $25.5 million contract that also includes two club options that could raise the total value to $43.75 million. He will now be under club control through his arbitration years and (if the options are exercised) his first two years of free agency.
The young right-hander was excellent during his first full season in 2013, posting a 9-7 record in 23 starts, with a 3.22 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 101 strikeouts in 128.2 innings. But if he’s really that good and last season wasn’t an aberration he is now locked into a long-term, below-market deal.
Archer’s new contract is the latest in a long line of contracts given to young players that buy out their arbitration years and their first few years of free agency. Mike Trout got a huge deal from the Angels last week that did the same thing. Young players are sacrificing what could be far more money in the long run for financial security in the short term. That’s absolutely fine and good for them, but it also shows that baseball’s owners are rolling in cash and taking advantage.
After all, a player’s final year of arbitration and early free agency years are almost always when his value is the highest.
The Rays aren’t a big-time draw and play in a small market, yet they were able to give that kind of money to a guy who has made just 27 professional starts. What does that say about the owners who aren’t spending money to lock up their young talent?
Last year, baseball’s total revenue topped $8 billion, and Bud Selig apparently thinks this year it will top $9 million. That means owners have cash on hand to spend, and some are taking advantage by locking up their young talent for below-market deals. It’s a trend I don’t see ending any time soon.