Major League Baseball has lifted its previous “lifetime” ban on former Braves general manager John Coppolella. reports Jayson Stark of The Athletic. Coppolella has spent the last five years on the league’s ineligible list after facing severe penalties for violations of the rules in both the international free hand and the annual amateur draft. A league spokesman told Stark that Coppolella was reinstated “given the more than five years he has spent on the ineligible list, the regret he has expressed and the other steps he has taken in response.” has taken action on this matter”.
Coppolella released his own statement:
“I would like to thank Commissioner Manfred for accepting my request to be removed from the list of ineligible persons. I am deeply grateful to so many people who were involved in this process, including (Executive Vice President of Legal and Operations) Bryan Seeley and (Senior Vice President of Investigations and Deputy General Counsel) Moira Weinberg of Major League Baseball. I deeply regret and accept responsibility for my actions. Once again, I want to apologize to the Atlanta Braves organization, Major League Baseball, their fans, and especially my family and friends. I am grateful for this decision and I will strive every day to take advantage of this opportunity.”
At the time of Coppolella’s original ban, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that his investigation into the Braves’ dealings found that the team had underreported bonuses for five amateurs subject to international bonus pool restrictions. The Braves then overreported their bonus to an older, pool-exempted player and used that overstated bonus as a means to funnel extra money to the five amateurs in question.
Had the Braves reported this indeed Bonuses from the five amateurs in question would have prevented them from signing an international amateur for more than $300,000 during either of the two subsequent contract periods. Instead, a year later, the Braves were able to sign two of the top names in the international market. The Braves also agreed on inflated signing bonuses with six amateurs represented by the agent for now track and field prospects Robert Pushon, with the understanding that Puason would sign with Atlanta a few years later. Atlanta also offered the infielder “non-contractual compensation.” Ji Hwan Bae (now with the Pirates) and “undue advantages” to an amateur draftee who is not named in Manfred’s statement but was reported as an outfield player Drew Waters. You can read Manfred’s full statement on this topic here.
Ultimately, the Braves were stripped of 12 prospects, each of whom was immediately declared a free agent. Her deal with Bae, which was ongoing at the time of the findings, was annulled. The Braves also forfeited their third-round selection in the subsequent amateur draft, were not allowed to sign an international amateur for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 period, and were not allowed to sign the aforementioned Puason once he actually became a free agent.
At this time, it’s not clear if Coppolella will actually seek a return to baseball work, nor how many teams would be interested. The now 44-year-old Coppolella’s fingerprints can still be seen on the Braves organization to this day, but there would certainly also be some PR implications for any team adding him to their baseball operations staff.
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