Sports

Atlanta Braves Handed Stiff Penalty For Illegal Player Signings

John Coppolella
John Coppolella, former Atlanta Braves general manager, was banned for life by Major League Baseball for his role in illegally signing international players. The team was also punished.
Credit Alex Brandon / Associated Press file
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The Atlanta Braves’ former general manager, John Coppolella, was banned for life by Major League Baseball for his role in illegally signing international players.

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MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred also voided the contracts of 13 prospects the team illegally signed over the past two years.

The sanctions levied against the Braves also included a forfeited pick in next year’s draft, and the available money to them for signing international players was significantly reduced.

Now, the Braves must figure out what to do.

I.J. Rosenberg, an Atlanta sports analyst, said for a team already in rebuilding mode, the effects of the punishment will be felt for years to come.

“Most of the players weren’t close to playing in the major league,” Rosenberg said. “But in a couple of years, they’re going to feel the effects of that as well as the fact they aren’t going to be able to sign anybody out of the international player market.”

He said this is about as bad as it gets for a professional organization.

Rosenberg said the punishment should act as a warning to other teams in the league.

“The league is sending a loud and clear message,” he said. “And I guarantee you that you will not see these types of mistakes anymore in Major League Baseball. This is like the death penalty.”

The Atlanta Braves released a response to the sanctions apologizing to fans and said, “We are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again.”