Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella resigned abruptly this afternoon due to “a breach of Major League Baseball rules regarding the international player market,” the Braves announced in a statement.
MLB confirmed to Deadspin that there is an ongoing investigation into Coppolella’s actions as GM. Ken Rosenthal reports Coppolella is not the only Braves front office member wrapped up in this scandal:
Jeff Passan reports the league’s investigation into Coppolella’s conduct went beyond its international dealings, including into his “treatment of Braves employees”:
The Braves signed Venezuelan hitter Kevin Maitan on July 2, 2016 with a $4.25 million signing bonus, along with a number of other prospects for around $15 million on the first day of the international signing period. They wildly exceeded their $4.75 million signing bonus allotment, and are restricted from giving more than $300,000 to a player during the 2017-2018 signing period.
This is not the first time an MLB front office has run afoul of international signing rules. In 2013, former White Sox director of player personnel Dave Wilder was sentenced to two years in prison for taking kickbacks on international signings. Last year, the league announced that the Red Sox could not sign international players during the 2016-2017 signing period after the league learned that the Sox were participating in “packaging” prospects to beat the pool system; that is, signing two prospects from the same agent to similar amounts, but allowing the agent to pay the better prospect more from the share.
John Hart, President of Baseball Operations, will fill in as interim GM for now, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports.