Written by ESPN News Staff at ESPN.com
Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella, who oversaw the construction of baseball’s top-rated farm system, was forced to resign Monday after an investigation by Major League Baseball revealed serious rules violations in the international player market.
The Braves announced Coppolella’s resignation Monday, citing a “breach of Major League Baseball rules regarding the international player market.” Gordon Blakeley, a special assistant to the GM who was the team’s international scouting chief, also has resigned.
Coppolella’s surprising resignation came just two years and one day after he was promoted to GM and signed a four-year contract. John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations, will perform GM duties until the team hires a replacement for Coppolella.
Sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that multiple team executives have filed complaints with the commissioner’s office recently over Coppolella’s conduct, and that MLB is investigating Coppolella for a number of infractions in areas beyond the international realm.
One source told Crasnick that the breach of etiquette regarding the international player market could be just “the tip of the iceberg.” Yahoo! Sports, which first reported the scope of the investigation Monday, also reported that the probe includes Atlanta’s domestic draft practices.
Hart said during a news conference Monday that the Braves cooperated with MLB when they first learned of the investigation “in the past couple weeks.” He wouldn’t reveal details of the rules violations but he did say they did not involve criminal activity.
Hart didn’t know if the Braves would be penalized by MLB, but he acknowledged there was no agreement for lesser organizational penalties in exchange for Coppolella’s resignation.
“We didn’t bargain, if you will, on that,” Hart said. “The decision that was made here internally was it just wasn’t right and it wasn’t going to fit for what worked with the Braves going forward.”
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