Braves busted for breach of amateur signing rules

MLB Notes Braves Lose 13 International Players in Sanctions

The Atlanta Braves were stripped of 12 prospects, and their former general manager was banned from baseball for life on Tuesday, the most significant penalties in an unprecedented punishment for what the league said was a three-year circumvention of worldwide signing rules.

Coppolella rose through the ranks of the Braves' organization, eventually being named the team's general manager in 2015.

In an unprecedented punishment, the Major League Baseball also said it will dock the Braves a third-round pick in the 2018 amateur draft, while barring the team from signing any global player for more than $10,000 in the 2019/2020 window. The most heralded among them, Venezuelan shortstop Kevin Maitan, 17, signed for $4.25 million in 2016, when he was ranked by Baseball America as the top global amateur prospect.

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If the money had been counted for the other five, the Braves would have exceeded their pool by more than 5 percent and been restricted to signing bonuses of US$300,000 or under for worldwide amateurs through June 15, 2019. Each of the players will be forced to use an agent different than the buscon, or trainer, who negotiated their original deals. Finally, the team will be banned from signing 14-year-old Robert Puason after illegally reaching an agreement. The club will also lose a third-round pick in 2018 for trying to offer "off-the-books perks" to Drew Waters, who was the 41st overall pick in this year's draft. He will remain with Atlanta.

Atlanta finished third in the National League East this season with a 72-90 record. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley, the team's global scouting chief, was suspended from performing services for any team for one year.

While the Braves' future under new general manager Alex Anthopoulos remains bright due to their cache of prospects, the stain of improprieties on an organization that long prided itself on running its operations the right way is indelible.

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The Braves issued a statement Tuesday evening, saying in part, that they fully cooperated with the investigation. The Braves were simply the ones caught.

The first US$200,000 of a signing bonus will not count against a team's limit, but the US$300,000 maximum remains for teams subject to the penalty for exceeding their pool under the previous labor contract. Maitan is the biggest name in the group and is expected to receive the most interest from other teams.

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