Major League Baseball concluded their investigation on the Atlanta Braves for breaking international amateur free agency rules Tuesday, and the results were quite severe.
The consequences that the Braves will be forced to deal with because of the actions of former general manager John Coppolella are that 12 of their international prospects, including top prospect Kevin Maitan, have been ruled free agents.
Additionally, the Braves will lose their third-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, and will be limited to spending a maximum of $300,000 for a player in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 international signing periods. Then in 2019-20, Atlanta will be limited to spending $10,000 per player and in 2020-21 they will lose half their signing-bonus pool.
It doesn’t end there though, as they also will be banned from signing 14-year-old Dominican Republic shortstop Robert Puason, whom the Braves had struck an illegal deal with because of his age.
The penalty is a harsh one, and the man who will be forced to bounce back from it is newly-hired executive vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who worked in the Los Angeles Dodgers front office the last two years.
Maitan, the 17-year-old Venezuelan shortstop, is the biggest loss for the Braves as he was among their highest-regarded prospects. All 29 other Major League teams now have the ability to sign him and the other former Braves prospects that are now free agents. Teams are able to use leftover money from the current international signing period or dip into their 2017-18 bonus pools to sign them.
Both Coppolella and president of baseball operations John Hart are no longer with the Braves organization due to the matter, and Coppolella has been given a lifetime ban from baseball. He joins Pete Rose (betting scandal), Chris Correa (Cardinals hacking scandal) and Jennry Mejia (third PED violation) as current people permanently banned from the MLB.
Other Braves employees may also suffer consequences for their actions.