The team’s rule-breaking led to the resignation of former general manager John Coppolella last month. MLB has not announced the results of their investigation or made clear exactly which parts of the rules were broken. But commissioner Rob Manfred is now reportedly deciding how to discipline the team, and giving up some prospects is expected to be part of the package here. Other possible penalties that could be added are fines or restrictions on future international signing classes.
Maitan, a shortstop (for now), signed out of Venezuela last year for $4.25 million at age 16. The switch-hitter has been ranked among the top 10 prospects in the organization and the top 100 in the game. Though MLB investigated his signing specifically, it’s not yet clear if they managed to find anything untoward. At any rate, Maitan will certainly have plenty of suitors if he’s made a free agent—though if he’s still considered subject to international signing rules, new guidelines that went into effect this year might make it trickier for him to get paid. The updated rules set a hard limit for team spending, the amount of which varies from club to club depending on specific conditions but generally will not exceed $6 million, unless one team can find another willing to trade away some of their own cap space in a deal. That limit is per each club’s whole international class, not per single international free agent. (But if Maitan’s put on the market, he would be allowed to keep his original signing bonus, per Rosenthal.)
The closest blueprint that we have for how the Braves might be penalized is the result of the investigation into the Red Sox’s infractions two years ago, though Atlanta’s violations have previously been reported as “significantly bigger” than Boston’s. The Red Sox were blocked from signing international players for a year and watched five of their prospects become free agents. Those five prospects had signed for a collective $1.5 million—a fraction of what the Braves invested in Maitan alone. But Atlanta’s 2016 international signing class included a dozen other players (including catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, who signed for $3.5 million, and shortstop Yunior Severino, for $1.9 million), so depending on exactly what MLB found in its investigation, there’s no shortage of possible penalties here.