Braves GM John Coppolella resigns amid MLB investigation into breach of international player market rules
Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella, the 38-year-old engineer behind one of baseball’s preeminent rebuilds, resigned Monday morning, citing a “breach of Major League Baseball rules regarding the international player market.” The resignation ends Coppolella’s two-year run in the GM role.
President of baseball operations John Hart will serve as acting general manager until the organization finds Coppolella’s replacement.
“Major League Baseball is investigating the matter with our full cooperation and support,” Hart said in a statement released by the team. “We will not be issuing any further comment until the investigation is complete.”
Special assistant Gordon Blakely, a longtime associate of Coppolella dating back to his days in the New York Yankees front office, also resigned on Monday morning.
In the aftermath of the organization’s release of former general manager Frank Wren, Coppolella and Hart stepped into leadership roles while renovating the franchise’s major-league roster and farm system.
Coppolella, who stepped into the acting general manager role in October 2015, was a prominent voice behind the trades of Braves standouts Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Evan Gattis and Shelby Miller in renovating the Braves farm system.
Under his guidance, Atlanta struggled at the MLB level but garnered unanimous acclaim in piecing together one of baseball’s best stockpiles of young talent — including 2015 No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson, top international signing Kevin Maitan and former first-round picks Max Fried, Sean Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz, Touki Toussaint and Alex Jackson.
Sounds like MLB's investigation into what might have been a minor matter led to the discovery of the major international market infractions
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) October 2, 2017
MLB investigation of #Braves international rules infractions went back a couple of years
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) October 2, 2017
The Braves invested heavily in the international market under Coppolella, most notably with the 2016 class including Maitan — a shortstop who drew Miguel Cabrera and Miguel Sano comparisons before signing for $4.25 million — shortstops Yunior Severino and Livan Soto, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez and third baseman Yenci Pena, among others. Due to MLB restrictions after exceeding the cap the previous summer, the Braves hauled in a quiet international class this year headlined by outfielder Asmin Bautista ($300,000) and right-hander Oscar Nunez ($185,000).
In 2015, the franchise’s top signings were intriguing prospects Cristian Pache ($1.4 million) and Derian Cruz ($2 million). According to Yahoo! Sports, the investigation is reportedly centered around Maitan — and could lead to significant repercussions down the line.
learned today from Coppy: another club offered top int'l talent Kevin Maitan ~$10M at the J2 deadline. Maitan signed with Atlanta at $4.25M.
— Zach Dillard (@Zach_Dillard) February 17, 2017
Depending on the results of MLB’s investigation, the club could face future penalties in the amateur markets.
Atlanta wrapped up its third straight 90-loss season on Sunday.