After seven long weeks of uncertainty, the Braves finally found their fate after MLB’s investigation regarding the clubs dealings in the international player market. Fifty days ago, GM John Coppolella and scout Gordon Blakeley resigned suddenly amid the pending investigation. Since, John Hart has left the club to pursue other opportunities, and a new GM, Alex Anthopoulos has stepped in as Executive Vice President and General Manager.
But Tuesday, word came down from the Commissioner’s Office on the penalties the Braves would face from the previous regime, including the loss of prized infield prospect Kevin Maitan, whom the team gave a $4.25 million dollar signing bonus July 2, 2016. In addition to losing Maitan, the Braves were also stripped of 12 other international prospects: Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livavn Soto, Guillermo Zuniga, Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas, Antonio Sucre and Jihwan Bae. “My office has completed a thorough investigation into violations of Major League Rules by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves cooperated throughout the investigation, which was conducted by MLB’s Department of Investigations” MLB’s press release said. “The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017” the release added.
So, here’s what lies ahead for the Braves as a result of Tuesday’s announcement. The team will lose its third round pick in 2018, be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-2020 period and the bonus pool will be reduced by fifty percent for 2020-2021’s signing period. Former GM John Coppolella was also banned for life by Commissioner Mafred, the third he’s placed on that list since taking over for Bud Selig nearly three years ago.
An offseason full of uncertainty finally has some closure and the team will begin the process of moving forward. Per the team’s release, the Braves “are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again and remain excited about the future of Braves baseball.”