The Braves and several former front-office members have been hit hard by MLB.
Former Braves GM John Coppolella, who resigned from the position in October after MLB opened an investigation into his team’s international signing practices, has been hammered the hardest, receiving a lifetime ban from the sport for his role in the “violations of Major League Rules,” commissioner Robert Manfred said in a statement Tuesday.
“With respect to individual discipline, former Braves General Manager John Coppolella will be placed on the permanently ineligible list, effective immediately,” Manfred’s statement read.
Former Braves special assistant Gordon Blakeley was also suspended for a year, with Manfred saying, “I intend to discipline other Braves’ International Baseball Operations employees who particpated in the misconduct after the completion of our internal procedures.”
The Braves also suffered penalties for circumventing international signing rules in recent years.
The result is that 12 international signees – Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Kevin Maitan, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Tunior Severino, Livan Soto, Guillermo Zuniga, Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre – will all be released from their contracts, “declaring them free agents eligible to sign with any other Club.”
Maitan, a 17-year-old shortstop from Venezuela, is the top prospect of the group, ranked fifth among Braves farmhands by MLB.com.
The team will also receive penalties for the next two international signing periods, with MLB prohibiting the team from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during 2019-20, while also having their 2020-21 signing bonus pool money cut in half.
The Braves released a statement accepting the punishment.
“As we expressed last week, our organization has not lived up to the standard our fans expect from us and that we expect from ourselves.,” the team’s statement said. “For that, we apologize. We are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happning again and remain excited about the furture of Braves baseball.”