Post-Coppolella, what happens with the Braves? And what of Snitker?

The one on the right is out. The one on the left probably stays. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

General manager John Coppolella resigned. The Atlanta Braves remain under MLB investigation. Even though Coppolella and chief international scout Gordon Blakeley are no longer with the organization could mitigate any punishment, there’s apt to punishment — and not just a slap on the wrist.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes that “the Braves allegedly reached a verbal agreement” with Robert Puason, a 14-year-old shortstop from Haiti who is not eligible to sign a contract with an MLB club until he turns 16, which won’t happen until July 2, 2019.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that MLB “is expected to look into the signing of top prospect Kevin Maitan, a 17-year-old shortstop who received a $4.25 million bonus last year. If improprieties are discovered with Maitan’s signing, he could be declared a free agent, according to multiple sources.”

Passan reports that MLB questioned Coppolella last week regarding “under-the-table benefits … to sign for under the slot value” allegedly offered to Drew Waters of Etowah High, the Braves’ second-round pick in the June draft. Writes Passan: “Coppolella and Keith Grunewald, Waters’ agent, denied the allegations, saying that Coppolella’s offer of a car to bridge the difference between the $1.5 million he signed for and the $1.675 million slot value was made in jest.”

Writes Rosenthal: “Coppolella also is accused of misconduct in the domestic amateur draft and illegal contact with major-league free agents and even other teams’ coaches regarding future employment, according to sources. The focus of baseball’s investigation, however, is ’98 percent international,’ one source said.”

Here we note the language in the Braves’ statement regarding Coppolella. His resignation was due to “a breach in MLB rules regarding the international player market.” Nothing else.

From Passan: “The domestic allegations are unlikely to carry the severity of penalty as the alleged international misdeeds, though the anonymous complaints offered a number of threads to investigate.”

The Braves fully anticipate that MLB will levy penalties, fines, what-have-you. They also expect any sanctions to be confined to misdoings in the international market. At this moment, the Braves have hope they’ll be allowed to keep Maitan, though that could change. Four days ago, they didn’t expect to be without a general manger.

From Passan: “For months leading up to the July 2, 2016, signing date, Maitan spent a significant amount of time living in a two-bedroom apartment near Miramar, Fla., with another teenage amateur the Braves eventually would sign, a source familiar with the arrangement told Yahoo Sports. While it is unclear whether the Braves funded Maitan’s time in the United States, he and the other player did not share a (trainer) and would have been connected by a third party.”

We say again: The Braves under Coppolella were dead serious about international signings. Blakeley, with whom Coppolella worked as a Yankee employee, was brought here because he’s considered one of the oldest and ablest hands in a marketplace that isn’t easy to navigate. That Coppolella and Blakeley resigned in tandem tells us that the Braves did something seriously wrong somewhere along the line.

As mentioned yesterday, Coppolella was so focused in his zeal to rebuild the Braves that it’s not hard to imagine him getting carried away. Had it been just one corner cut one solitary time, the team might have said, “OK, he made a mistake,” accepted whatever penalty MLB levied and carried on with him as GM. That the Braves were moved to cut ties so abruptly suggests this wasn’t just one corner, one time. Had Coppolella remained in place, his penalty would have been significant.

These penalties could still be significant. MLB is trying to clean up the international market, long a repository of handshake deals and blurred lines. Writes Rosenthal: “Other teams also are under investigation for their conduct in the international market, sources said. The international scouting director of one club said as many as 15 teams allegedly have reached verbal agreements with players who are not eligible to sign until 2019, when they turn 16.”

Last year, MLB voided the contracts voided of five international players signed by the Red Sox. Rosenthal again: “The Braves’ actions were believed to be more egregious and likely will result in harsher penalties; no Red Sox employees resigned because of their team’s actions.”

So: Yes, there’s a chance the Braves could lose Maitan, ranked by MLB.com as the Braves’ No. 5 prospect. There’s a chance they could be precluded from any international signings over the next year or two. They’ve become a test case. They’re bracing to get whacked.

This does not, however, mean that the No. 1 farm system will be ravaged. It wouldn’t be quite as good without Maitan, but it’d still be among the best. Ronald Acuna — an international signing under Frank Wren — was just named Baseball America’s minor league player of the year. At least four young pitchers — Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint — could make their Atlanta debuts next year. Sean Newcomb, Max Fried and Luiz Gohara are already here.

The rebuild will continue, albeit without the chief rebuilder. That’s a major blow, and it’s also an embarrassment to the organization. But the Braves should be able to hire a capable GM — given their young assets, they’ll have no shortage of eager applicants — and in time this will be seen as misstep, as opposed to a derailing.

Oh, and one thing more: With John Hart in sudden need of a GM, I wouldn’t look for him to change managers. The issue of Brian Snitker has been hanging. Monday’s stunning events probably decided it. At the moment, the Braves would welcome a dash of continuity.

Reader Comments 0

46 comments
jamsess
jamsess

What would we have to do to get Tim Hudson back in town and team him with Chipper Jones as a leadership team?

TideDawg
TideDawg

Snitker is back for 2018 Bradley. Read the Gwinnett Post for current information on the Braves.

AMFILMSHD
AMFILMSHD

what in the heck is going on down there in Atlanta.  Braves have sucked for years now!

#41
#41

Good grief! This management team will test one's religion. 

Not only are the loser Braves a pathetic team and perennially one of the worse franchises in all of MLB --- now we learn that our management is, not only incompetent, but unethical. These jokers have been violating league rules all over the place -- this inappropriate/illicit behavior is a major embarrassment to all Braves fans and the entire metro Atlanta area. Hart, his supervisor, didn't know about any of these shenanigans???  Sure.....  Heads need to roll!

Guys; not only does our team stink, it's crooked too!!

Great! Just Great!

PS: From now on, it’s Crooked Coppy.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@#41

Now, just multiply all those woes by FIVE (teams) and there you have it--The City of ATL's illustrious history in the world of pro sports.

Been there
Been there

@#41  That's what I like about the Internet. Monday morning quarterbacking at its finest. Mark Bradley is mighty good at it too. The opposite of "He who is without sin, cast the first stone". There is not one GM in the history of MLB that has not broken a rule while pushing things to the limit. Not one!

DawgNole
DawgNole

"The rebuild will continue, albeit without the chief rebuilder. That’s a major blow, and it’s also an embarrassment to the organization."

______________

You mean the rebuild that has yielded four straight losing seasons--three of them 90-loss failures???

THAT rebuild?!

Doesn't seem to me that moving on "without the chief rebuilder" is a "major blow" at all.

The team's clearly better off without him.

But hey, you're damn right about it being "an embarrassment to the organization," so I'll give you that one.

bowman
bowman

The first time I heard John Coppolella in a post-game interview I was stunned. Stunned at his poor use of English, his inability to form coherent responses and his general lack of professionalism, none of which you expect from a Notre Dame graduate. I was left wondering how he could succeed as general manager of a major league baseball team...

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Wow. Turns out a lot of us were right, just sooner and not quite in the way we expected. This regime has been a disaster for fans (ballpark is not really a GM thing), and I seriously doubt the bleeding is anywhere near done. It really doesn't take ANY talent to tank a team, anybody can do it. Coppy proved himself capable on that front. Hard times to be a Braves fan.


And, the manager at this point is of marginal importance at best. Anybody will do that can write out a lineup card and coddle impatient vets while coaching the kids on how to be a professional at this level. Tons of candidates.

TideDawg
TideDawg

I heard the Braves picked up Snit's option for 2018.

JR947
JR947

The Atlanta Way

JeanAnnCanoe
JeanAnnCanoe

I am glad Coppolella is gone, not only because of breaking international rules, but much more importantly, because he did not know what he was doing. He traded away what was a pretty decent team and got very little in return. Now, hopefully, they can get somebody who does know what they are doing.

Bill Miller

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@JeanAnnCanoe Look I know Coppy traded away all of the players on a decent MLB team(zero playoff wins) but there was no way Liberty media was going to pay Jason Heyward, Justin Upton over $20 Million a year for 6 or 7 years.Coppy got what he could for them Heyward eventually turned into Inciarte,  Swanson and Blair. Upton returned Max Fried, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith.Mallex Smith was part of a trade for Braves LHP Luis Gohara. Kimbrel and Melvin Upton and the $45 million left on his contract were traded for Matt Wisler , Camryn Maybin, and a draft pick #41 overall that was used to pick 3B Austin Riley who may be the Braves 3B by the end of 2018.

The Alex Wood Trade was likely the worst deal Coppy made , Wood , Jose Peraza, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Bronson Arroyo's contract for hector Olivera, Zach Bird and Paco Rodriguez. Olivera was a bust and he was traded to San Diego for Matt Kemp ,basically a swap of bad contracts. Bird and Rodriguez never pitched an inning for the Braves. Wood has overcome injuries to have a break out year for the 2017 Dodgers.

And of course the most controversial trade , Andrelton Simmons to the Angels for LHP Sean Newcomb and RHP Chris Ellis., and the forgettable  SS Eryck Aybar.This one may be the hardest to swallow for most Braves fans.

USMC2841
USMC2841

@Buschleaguer @JeanAnnCanoe Olivera had red flags all around.  The Dodgers didn't have a solid 3B to keep in the minors as long as he was and we got him for a song.  The "Braves" way of having the owner in the front row taking pride in his team has been replaced by an out of town conglomerate that seeks a tax write off.  Now the G.M. is so toxic his next job should be A.D. at the University of Louisville.  I hope we can return to the "Braves" way.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Buschleaguer @JeanAnnCanoe  The Wood trade doesn't look so bad now. He started fast and finished like a worn out 40 year old. The Dodgers were hot and the Braves have 3 pitchers that could have won 12 games with that team in the firs half. I fail to see all of the angst over this turn of events with Coppy. Wren got fired and the Braves survived, they will survive the Coppy fiasco.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TideDawg: "Wren got fired and the Braves survived . . . ."

______________

True enough, but they "survived" simply to continue their losing ways; four straight years of it now--and counting.

Isn't it about time the team did a bit more than just "survive"?

TideDawg
TideDawg

@DawgNole @TideDawg  OK, 2 of those were under Gonzalez. He could have lost with the Yankee dynasty at his disposal.

TomGaff
TomGaff

Somehow, do we think he was the sacrificial lamb! Bet Hart(the old guy, like me) was involved?

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TomGaff The old Grey Mares threw the young Colt under the Bus. It is Finally Time for a total change in the leadership of the Braves. Give out the Gold Watches , Say Thank You Very Much , and do not let the door hit you on the way out. Schuerholz , Cox and Hart enjoy your Retirement. #retire TheBravesWay!

Techmate
Techmate

@Buschleaguer @TomGaff Man, you are a bush-leaguer. How high up did you play baseball? Or were you on the management side of things? 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Techmate @Buschleaguer @TomGaff probably a lot further up the chain than you techster . Look Schuerholz ,Cox and Hart have had their chance with the Braves, Cox over 40 years, Schuerholz 37 years , Hart  40 years combined among 4 MLB organizations.

It is time to bring in some new blood , the Braves have not won a post season series since 2001. 

the term Buschleaguer was given to a few career minor league players in the Cardinals system, some of which went on to work for Anheuser/Busch in some capacity when they finally left baseball.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Buschleaguer @TomGaff  Get rid of Cox. He still thinks he's a genius because the media keeps trying to make him one. The word is Coppy got himself fired....what's wrong with the other management. Let it rest and re-visit this event next spring when nobody will remember what or why.

PSU92
PSU92

How do the local market reporters miss this story and let it be written by national writers? Asleep at the wheel or drinking the kool-aid? Shuerholz, Cox, Hart - time to go ... two of you are in the HOF for 1 World Series win when you had 4 HOF players on your roster during their prime ... the '27 Yanks might be the only other team in history with that many HOF players and they won a helluva lot more titles than our Braves who btw, also had the highest payroll in the league at the time. Your success is not as impressive as you've marketed it to be ... time to go.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Snitker is not the high profile manager the Braves want. Snitker is a loyal employee and I hope they take care of him if he is relieved of the manager position. He deserves that!

USMC2841
USMC2841

@TideDawg He seemed to have more success developing talent in the lower leagues.  I hope there is room for him but don't think he's a MLB playoff manager.

Techmate
Techmate

@USMC2841 @TideDawg Hard to know what Snit is capable with a very fine roster. And he may not have one for a few years even if he's given the chance. 

Field Managers are generally over-rated. A good example is the Cubs' manager - man, did he come close to blowing the WS for the Cubs last year.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@USMC2841 @TideDawg I Think Snitker will be  collateral damage in the Coppolella resignation.Brian will likely be out as manager and out of what is left standing of the Braves current organization.Time for Liberty to change the upper leadership of the Braves McGuirk , Schuerholz, Cox and Hart need to go and take their "Braves Way Mantra" with them. 

Liberty should take some of the money they will saved this year and next by having 3/4 of their players making the MLB minimum and make current KC Royals GM Dayton Moore an offer he cannot refuse. A 10 year contract as Team President and Director of all Baseball Operations. Time to start a new era in Braves baseball ,one  I hope that will generate more than one championship in 37 years.


Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TideDawg High profile manager ,heh. Where is such a manager, LaRussa retired, Leyland retired, LaSorda just turned 90 years old, Torre retired , Baker has a job , Madden is defending a world  series title, Francona is in the playoffs again with Cleveland. 

Is there anyone else you consider High Profile out there.

Maybe Buck Showalter may be ready to leave the Orioles, Joe Girardi is set with the Yankees. 

Do you consider any of the following high profile?

1 Don Mattingly

2. Brad Ausmus 

3. Terry Collins

4. Pete Mackanin 

5. John Farrell 

Three of these five are currently available and all five may be available before the start of 2018.

I would just as soon see the Braves hire a young minor league manager from a successful organization like the Cardinals, Cubs or Indians.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@USMC2841 @TideDawg  The talent he's been managing is from the lower leagues. I think he's handled it well. I don't believe he's the manager for an all veteran team, but right now he's still got a team full of kids.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Buschleaguer @USMC2841 @TideDawg  It's time to realize that Liberty doesn't care if they win or lose only that they make money and they are not going to give someone the farm to do a job many baseball minded men could do for less money. The Braves drew about 2.5 million fans with a team that didn't play .500 ball. Liberty says "Yippee"

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Techmate @USMC2841 @TideDawg

I say again, Snit's certainly not entirely to blame for this year's debacle--not with the lame roster he's been given by the inept front office--but he has made his share of on-field blunders.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Buschleaguer: "Time to start a new era in Braves baseball ,one  I hope that will generate more than one championship in 37 years."

___________

Uh, you're being way too kind. It's been one championship in FIFTY-ONE years!

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Buschleaguer @TideDawg  I consider Washington a high profile manager. I could live with that! He's been coasting as a 3rd base coach....way over qualified for that job. This past year has been like a sabbatical for him. He will end up managing again.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@DawgNole @Buschleaguer I was only going back as far as when the organization brought in Schuerholz as GM. Time for the BravesWay to finally come to an end.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TideDawg @Buschleaguer Maybe in the short term, Wash will be 68 years old next April,Although  he still works harder than most people that are 30 years younger. But no matter who the next manager of the Braves turns out to be ,it is more than likely to be another losing season in 2018. Still to much uncertainty with the starting pitching to be a contender for even a wildcard in 2018.

mc1362002
mc1362002

Just because the GM messed up, and had to resign, what does this have to do with Snitker?       Two separate issues entirely.    When the Braves were bad in the 1980s, they went through.. four managers before a man named Cox took the job himself.     I personally think Snitker should go.     I was reading an article of yours from earlier in the year, Mark.  One  you wrote around New Years 2017, in which you said you expected the Braves to finish at or near 500 in 2017.   They were at 500 in July, and then did a free fall.      If they do not make changes, and improve for 2018, their new park will be empty.     Even if they don't go "Worst to First" ;like they did in 1991, or even get a wild card,  they must strive to improve to 500 for 2018, to at least make things interesting.      I don't think a team should keep the wrong manager just to have continuity.  I think a team does what is right for the team.  In this case, Snitker should go. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@mc1362002: "Just because the GM messed up, and had to resign, what does this have to do with Snitker? Two separate issues entirely."

____________

BINGO!

Plus, who the hell wants "continuity" when what it would translate to is a FIFTH straight losing season?!

What exactly are we trying to "continue" here???

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Instead of using the Coppolella resignation to keep Snitker and a Dash of continuity(another 90 loss season?) for the Braves going forward, why not go in the other direction ? Let Hart go, Schuerholz and Cox retire and the Braves hire a totally new front office , DOB listed 5 candidates yesterday, pick one of the younger candidates and start a New era in Braves baseball.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Buschleaguer

"Why not," you ask.

Well, probably because it would be a refreshing, logical alternative to the same ol' crapola we've endured for most of the past 51 seasons--you know, "The Braves Way" and all.

Teams that have failed to win a championship in all but one of their entire 51 years of existence generally aren't big on refreshing, logical alternatives.

blevins1491
blevins1491

Kudos to solid national reporters like Rosenthal and Passan, who give Atlanta-based sportswriters something to write about.