ATLANTA -- Braves general manager John Coppolella couldn't quite make his end-of-the-year wish come true -- to acquire Chris Archer as a Christmas present. But that doesn't mean he won't continue weighing the possibility of trading for either Archer or Jose Quintana before the upcoming season begins.
The Braves have already significantly altered their rotation, and they are not comfortable with the Rays' current asking price for Archer or what the White Sox are seeking for Quintana. So it might be easy to assume neither of these pitchers will be in Atlanta's rotation at the start of the season. But in order to do so, you must also ignore the reality that it has never been wise to make assumptions about what the always aggressive Coppolella might do.
Though neither Quintana nor Archer would provide the Braves the ace they sought during their early and brief pursuit of Chris Sale, both can legitimately be described as front-line starters with attractive contracts.
Quintana has made at least 32 starts each of the past four seasons, totaling 129. His 3.35 ERA in that span ranks 21st among all qualified Major League starters and seventh among all left-handers. Accounting for the two option years in the 27-year-old's contract, he would be owed an average of $9.21 million over the next four seasons.
Archer has totaled the third-most strikeouts over the past two seasons (trailing only Max Scherzer and Sale) and despite being damaged by the long ball more frequently this past year, he has posted a 3.52 ERA while totaling 99 starts over the past three seasons. The 28-year-old right-hander will make an average of $7.7 million over the next five seasons.
There's certainly reason to think the Astros or another pitching-hungry club with legitimate playoff hopes will feel a greater temptation to acquire Quintana or Archer. But as the Braves continue to crave both immediate and long-term rotation stability, they'll stay in the mix for Quintana or Archer. Either would boost expectations for the upcoming season while helping to anchor rotations that, over the next few years, will be enriched by some of the organization's top prospects.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.