Just one day before the MLB postseason officially kicks off, Braves GM John Coppolella is resigning from his post due to an MLB investigation into Atlanta circumventing international signing rules.
#Braves confirm Coppolella resignation, citing breach of rules in international market.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 2, 2017
This is a sudden development for the Braves’ front office, so what’s going on here?
Coppolella has been the GM since 2015, and in that time the Braves underwent almost a complete rebuild. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 when they lost in the NLDS to the Dodgers, but their farm system is the envy of many teams in the league and things certainly seemed to be back on track for the team.
Alas, Coppolella seems to be taking the fall for the front office as it has been confirmed that the team is under investigation for breaking rules related to recent international signings. As MLB has made the rules for international bonuses and signings stricter in recent years, it has become harder for teams to keep things on the straight and narrow while also securing the talent needed from abroad to turn a struggling team around.
While no specific violations have been released at this time, this investigation calls to mind the Red Sox circumventing restrictions on their international spending limits last season. For their punishment, they were banned from signing international amateurs during the most recent signing period, and had the contracts of five prospects signed in the prior year's period voided, including two top talents.
Numerous issues with John Coppolella came up as the league looked into the situation. At least one anonymous complaint was filed with MLB.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 2, 2017
Early on in investigation, little evidence had been found to corroborate a number of accusations levied against Coppolella, per sources.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 2, 2017
Whether the Braves are heading for the same fate or not isn’t clear, but it’s safe to say Coppolella is taking the fall for the front office while the investigation is ongoing. Circumventing international signing limitations doesn’t tend to happen without more than one or two people in the organization knowing about it or being directly involved. Special assistant Gordon Blakeley is also resigning thanks to this investigation.
#Braves special asst Blakeley also resigning, sources tell The Athletic. MLB investigating team for circumvention of int’l signing rules.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 2, 2017
President of Baseball Operations John Hart, another major reason the Braves’ rebuild has been so successful, will be assuming the GM role for now but reports indicate he won’t be the permanent replacement and the Braves are already looking for somebody else.
Whoever gets the nod to replace Coppolella, they’ll be assuming a role that a lot of people want. What manner of setbacks they will have to navigate thanks to this investigation remains to be seen.