Former General Manager of Atlanta Braves, John Coppolella, has been banned for life by Major League Baseball after an investigation into international signing violations. He resigned from the position in October after an investigation into his team's international signing practices was launched by the MLB. He had taken the position in October, 2015 after previously serving as the Director of Baseball Operations and Assistant General Manager of the Braves.
In addition to the lifetime ban on Coppolella, former Braves special assistant Gordon Blakeley was suspended for one year. The Braves, in response to the decision by the MLB, said that the Braves cooperated fully throughout the investigation and they understood and accepted the decision regarding the penalties that were imposed.
Consequences on the Players
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the 13 players that the Braves had signed illegally during the 2015-17 international free agent period have been released from their contracts, and this makes them eligible to sign with any team. The Braves have been prohibited from signing any international players during the 2019-20 signing window, plus their international signing bonus pool in 2020-21 will be reduced by 50 percent.
Under Copolella, the Braves went over their bonus pools in previous signing periods to incur penalties, and those penalties are carried over into the new CBA. Thus, the Braves, who are over their current 2016-17 signing pool, will be unable to sign a player for more than $300,000 in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 signing period.
Joining the Notorious List
Copolella joins the notorious list of people banned from their sport for life. These include former Clippers owner, Donald Sterling who was banned from the NBA league in 2014, Pete Rose who was banned from Baseball league in 1989 due to betting on baseball, Tonya Harding who was banned by the United States Figure Skating Association in 1994, just to mention a few.
Manfred said that his staff would speak to the Player’s Association and officials in the Dominican Republic regarding the appropriate consequences for the players’ representatives who intentionally participated in schemes to circumvent the rules.