MLB’s punishment of the Braves leaves lingering questions


Wednesday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at the extensive Braves’ punishments, and wonders why there aren’t more.

The Braves were finally punished by Major League Baseball for the scope of their breaking of international free agency rules, and it’s a whole lot to take in at once. They lost 12 prospects, will be restricted in future signing periods in the short-term future, and are also going to lose out in the draft. John Coppolella, the former general manager whose resignation kicked off this entire process in public, was banned from MLB for life. And yet, these punishments still feel incomplete.

Coppolella was served with MLB’s ultimate punishment, and his special assistant during his Braves’ tenure, Gordon Blakely, was banned from the game for a year. And yet, John Hart, the Atlanta exec who oversaw Coppolella, seems to have escaped with only an informal punishment. He’s no longer the President of Baseball Operations for the Braves, and it seems pretty clear at this point that he bailed because of the investigation. Where’s his suspension or ban, given Atlanta’s Baseball Operations department that he was in charge of is the one responsible for everything MLB investigated and punished?

Peter Gammons asked an important question on Twitter on Tuesday when he wondered who in Braves’ ownership was the one giving the OK for all of the cash spent on these prospects? It seems unlikely that Coppolella and Blakely were the only two employees in the Braves’ front office or from ownership who knew where this money was going and why, and yet, they’ve been forced to shoulder all of the blame.

This is not to say that the former GM and his special assistant did nothing wrong: it’s just a reminder that the Braves, as an organization, are at fault here, but for some reason, MLB chose to punish those who are already gone the most. This becomes even more of a question when you realize there’s a chance that all of this punishment came as a result of some whistleblowing amid a front office power struggle — notice John Schuerholz’s name hasn’t come up once in all of this despite the power he wielded for the Braves as their Vice Chairman? Seems weird!

What we know for sure is that MLB has made their intentions very clear to every other team that is making deals with underage players or shifting money around in order to get the prospects they want despite the spending rules in place. The punishment to the Red Sox was the initial message, and since that apparently wasn’t clear enough, they just dismantled the Braves’ front office and farm system.

  • Joe Morgan wrote a letter to baseball’s Hall of Fame voters, pleading with them to keep steroid users out of Cooperstown. It’s a bad letter with bad intentions, and Grant Brisbee wrote about how it achieved the opposite of its goal.
  • Here’s a look at the 12 prospects the Braves lost.
  • They’ll all be eligible to sign with new teams in two weeks, and no, the Braves can’t re-sign any of them to new deals.
  • Omar Vizquel is not a Hall of Famer, writes Let’s Go Tribe, and there should be no shame in his being merely really good.
  • Shohei Ohtani’s path to MLB should be clear, as the MLBPA agreed to a deal with Baseball and NPB that will allow him to be posted.
  • A pitch clock is definitely coming in 2018, once MLB and the MLBPA figure out how many seconds it should be ticking off.
  • Fish Stripes wonders if Justin Bour is going to be dealt soon, following a recent Marlins’ trade with the Yankees.
  • Is it actually a good idea for the Giants to trade for Giancarlo Stanton?
  • The Orioles might want to deal Zach Britton, and Camden Chat makes the case for them to do so.
  • Patrick Dubuque considers what the Wild West of baseball understanding felt like.

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