Ex-Braves GM John Coppolella permanently banned; team loses prospects

MLB hammers Atlanta Braves, declaring 12 minor league players free agents

Former Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella has been banned for life by Major League Baseball in a punishment that stems from multiple violations in the worldwide market.

One of the top prospects in baseball is suddenly a free agent, the biggest hammer to drop from sweeping punishments against the Braves for improper behavior while signing amateur talent.

Major League Baseball has confirmed in a statement that the Braves will lose the rights to shortstop prospect Kevin Maitan and 12 other worldwide signees.

Commissioner Rob Manfred ruled that the Braves must forfeit 13 worldwide prospects, including highly touted Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016. John Hart, who as president of baseball operations served as Coppolella's boss, resigned from the organization last Friday after being moved out of the baseball operations department earlier in the week with the hire of new GM Alex Anthopoulos.

"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", Manfred said. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was first to report on the full breadth of the sanctions.

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Coppolella will be banned from baseball for life, USA Today reported.

The Braves will also lose a third-round pick in the 2018 draft (penalty for the Waters infraction), and their worldwide signing bonus money will be drastically reduced through July 2021. At least three other players signed for a bonus of more than $1 million.

"The investigation established that the Braves circumvented global signing rules from 2015 through 2017", Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

Even with these losses, the Braves will have one of the best farm systems in baseball in 2018.

The Braves are prohibited from signing any global players for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 window, and their worldwide signing bonus pool in 2020-21 will be cut by 50 percent.

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