Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella Resigns

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Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella has resigned, effectively immediately, in a stunning development that launches the team into an offseason of uncertainty.

Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella Resigns

Two years and one day after his promotion to general manager, Coppolella departs amid reports of organizational infighting and impropriety in the Braves’ international recruiting efforts.

“Major League Baseball is investigating the matter with our full cooperation and support,” John Hart, Braves President of Baseball Operations, said in an official news release. “We will not be issuing any further comment until the investigation is complete.”

The release cites “a breach of Major League Baseball rules regarding the international player market” as the catalyst for Copollela’s resignation. Gordon Blakely, special assistant to the GM, reportedly will also resign. Hart will assume the role of Braves GM in the meantime until a replacement is announced.

Frustrations have reportedly been mounting for months. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on the team’s front office reorganization in late August, and Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan paints in a series of tweets today an apparent lack of favor among Coppolella’s contemporaries.

The news casts a dark shadow on the team’s improvements in 2017 and raises questions about its recent efforts to revitalize its farm system. Under Coppolella’s direction, the Braves have made a bevy of moves to cash in aging or peaking roster assets for talent depth and payroll flexibility. As part of that process, Atlanta has notably been among the most prolific MLB teams engaged in the market for international prospects, repeatedly collecting international bonus pool slots in trades to apply to the team’s available signing budget.

Household names among Braves fans like current second baseman Ozzie Albies (Curaçao) and two touted Venezuelan players – power-hitting outfielder Ronald Acuna and shortstop prodigy Kevin Maitain – were signed through the international free agent (IFA) process, among several other prospects in the Braves’ pipeline.

Atlanta has been in the ‘penalty box’ for overspending its allotment on international prospects during the 2016 international signing period, when they were the publicly prohibitive favorites to sign Maitan before the signing period even began on July 2.

Coppolella joined Atlanta as director of baseball operations in 2006 after six years with the New York Yankees organization. He was promoted to assistant general manager in 2012 under former general manager Frank Wren and held the position when Hart served as the team’s interim following Wren’s dismissal.

While Coppolella’s departure casts doubt on the team’s immediate future, both in terms of looming penalties from MLB and in the resolution of manager Brian Snitker’s status, many of the Braves rising talent – Acuna included – should factor into the continuing maturation process as the team looks to contend next season.

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