Major League Baseball Gives Former Braves General Manager Lifetime Suspension

Braves Will Forfeit Rights To 13 International Prospects, Including Infielder Kevin Maitan.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
John Coppolella
John Coppolella
- photo by Tim Evearitt

Former Braves general manager John Coppolella has been banned for life by Major League Baseball as part of discipline handed down by the league Tuesday for major infractions committed in the international free-agent market.

In addition, special assistant Gordon Blakeley has been suspended for one year.

In handing down the punishment, the league announced that Braves will forfeit rights to 13 international prospects, will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period and are restricted from signing players in the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

The highest-profile signee that the Braves will lose is infielder Kevin Maitan.

Here is the complete statement from MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred:

Commissioner Rob Manfred issued the following statement today:

"My office has completed a thorough investigation into violations of Major League Rules by the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves cooperated throughout the investigation, which was conducted by MLB's Department of Investigations. The senior Baseball Operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves. I am confident that Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Alex Anthopoulos and their staffs have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the Club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been.

"The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017. During the 2015-16 international signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club's signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players. The Club provided the additional bonus money to those players by inflating the signing bonus to another player who was exempt from their signing pool because he qualified as a 'foreign professional' under MLB rules. Consistent with the rules, the Braves could have signed all of the 2015-16 players for the full, actual signing bonus amounts. Had the Club signed the five players to contracts containing their actual bonuses, however, the Braves would have exceeded their signing bonus pool by more than five percent and would have been, under MLB rules, restricted from signing any players during the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

"As a result of the 2015-16 circumvention, the Braves were able to sign nine high-value players during the 2016-17 signing period who would have been unavailable to them had the Club accurately accounted for its signings during the 2015-16 signing period. These players were Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Kevin Maitan, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Peña, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga. In addition, the Braves entered into additional 'package' agreements in 2016 and 2017 in which they signed Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre for reduced amounts, and provided additional money to those players' agents by signing other players affiliated with their agents to contracts with inflated bonuses. In order to remedy these violations, I am releasing these players from their contracts with the Braves and declaring them free agents eligible to sign with any other Club. The procedures governing the players' release and the signing process will be communicated to MLB Clubs under separate cover.

"The investigation also determined that the Braves: (i) agreed to sign six players to inflated signing bonuses pursuant to an agreement with prospect Robert Puason's agent in exchange for a commitment that Puason would sign with the Club in the 2019-20 signing period; and (ii) offered prospect Ji-Hwan Bae extra-contractual compensation. In order to remedy these violations, I am prohibiting the Club from signing Robert Puason when he becomes eligible to sign, and disapproving the contract between Bae and the Braves, which has not yet become effective.

"While the remedies discussed above will deprive the Braves of the benefits of their circumvention, I believe that additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the Club for the violations committed by its employees. Accordingly, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, which is the first signing period in which the Braves are not subject to any signing restrictions under our rules; and the Braves' international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

"The investigation also determined that the Braves offered impermissible benefits, which were never provided, to a player they selected in the First-Year Player Draft in an attempt to convince him to sign for a lower bonus. As a penalty for the Club's attempted circumvention involving a draft selection, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

"With respect to individual discipline, former Braves General Manager John Coppolella will be placed on the permanently ineligible list, effective immediately. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley will be suspended for a period of one year, effective immediately, and may not perform services for any MLB Club during his suspension. I intend to discipline other Braves' International Baseball Operations employees who participated in the misconduct after the completion of our internal procedures. My staff will speak to the Players Association and officials in the Dominican Republic regarding appropriate consequences for the representatives of the players who intentionally participated in schemes to circumvent our rules, none of whom are certified by the Players Association."

 


PREP SCHEDULES

Cleveland State's Madison Guider Continues Cross Country Career At Tennessee Wesleyan

Randy Smith: Steph Curry's Big Joke


PREP BASKETBALL THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13 CSAS at Grace FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14 Rhea Co. Tournament – Walker Valley Walker Valley at Notre Dame Soddy Daisy at Sequatchie Co. ... (click for more)

History was made once again for the Cleveland State Cross-Country team on Tuesday, when Lady Cougar cross country runner Madison Guider signed a scholarship to run for Tennessee Wesleyan University. ... (click for more)

I had to laugh recently when NBA star Stephon Curry announced that he didn't believe that man's landing on the moon in 1969 was real. As Steph probably thought when he made that statement, folks ... (click for more)


Sports

PREP SCHEDULES

PREP BASKETBALL THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13 CSAS at Grace FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14 Rhea Co. Tournament – Walker Valley Walker Valley at Notre Dame Soddy Daisy at Sequatchie Co. Hixson at Red Bank CSAS at Lookout Valley Ridgeland at East Ridge Bradley at East Hamilton CCS at Silverdale Cleveland at Fulton Tyner at Brainerd Signal Mountain at White ... (click for more)

Cleveland State's Madison Guider Continues Cross Country Career At Tennessee Wesleyan

History was made once again for the Cleveland State Cross-Country team on Tuesday, when Lady Cougar cross country runner Madison Guider signed a scholarship to run for Tennessee Wesleyan University. Madison is the first Cleveland State runner to sign at the next level. "Madison was the top runner for the women's team for both of her years here. She will continue to work hard ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Chattanooga Police Sergeant Facing Criminal Charge After Arrest In Prostitution Sting

The Chattanooga Police Department has opened an internal investigation of a sergeant in CPD's Investigations Bureau on Thursday after he was taken into custody for solicitation of prostitution. The arrest came during a joint enforcement operation between the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Chattanooga Police Department's Vice Unit. Sgt. Peter Turk was off duty and ... (click for more)

Local Boy Scout Council Says It Is Financially Sound Despite Woes At National Level

The Cherokee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which serves 11 counties in Tennessee and northwest Georgia, has informed its executive board, donors, supporters, and volunteers that the local organization remains financially strong in light of recent national news stories concerning consideration of bankruptcy at the national level of the organization. Officials said, ... (click for more)

Opinion

Tom Caldwell Was Always A Champion For Orange Grove

Tom Caldwell was a devoted husband, father of four children and 13 grandchildren, veteran of World War II, Harvard University law school graduate, church member and outstanding corporate, tax and estate planning attorney at three of Chattanooga's leading law firms. His family, personal, legal, military, religious and civic duties are too many to list. As a member of the Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: So Long, 'Mr. Chaudion'

It’s been a couple of years ago, almost three, when I walked into a well-respected horse barn at the foot of Lookout Mountain, not far into Georgia, and caught sight of four black men, silently watching me enter. When I got to their midst, I nodded my respect to each of the four, as I was taught from the very start in my life, before I said, “I’d like a word with Mr. Chaudion Womble.” ... (click for more)