Atlanta Braves: Fallout From International Signing Scandal

Major League Baseball forced the Atlanta Braves to give up the rights to 12 of their international prospects as punishment for international signing violations. In addition, they’ll be restricted in amateur signings for years to come. They’ll also lose their third-round pick in next year’s Draft.

Major League Baseball really took a hard stance on this one, even going as far as to ban former GM John Coppolella for life. So now that the ruling is final, what does it all mean for the Braves and the rest of baseball?

While there isn’t much of an immediate impact, the Braves are taking a big hit for the future. For a team that’s rebuilding, a negative impact on the future is way worse than an immediate one. Of the 12 prospects, two ranked in the Braves’ top 30.

The biggest loss for the Atlanta Braves was the 17-year-old shortstop out of Venezuela, Kevin Maitan. Maitan was named the top name on the international market last year by MLBPipeline.com. He drew comparisons to a young Miguel Cabrera when being scouted, though he had a disappointing professional debut.

Poor showing aside, Maitan should draw plenty of interest from other teams. The same goes for the other 11 prospects, all of which look promising in their own rights. They are free to sign with any of the 29 teams from December 5 to January 15. If not signed during that window they’re still eligible, though they will not receive a bonus.

It’s clear that Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball were making a statement by dropping the hammer on the Atlanta Braves.

2016 involved the Red Sox in a similar scandal. That resulted in the Red Sox losing five prospects. This time, the Braves didn’t get off as lucky. Perhaps Manfred used them as a scapegoat to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The penalty handed to them hurts without a doubt but it doesn’t derail their rebuild. Even after losing a number of prospects, the Atlanta Braves still own one of the best farm systems in baseball. They may have trouble adding to it in the coming years but where it stands now is still very impressive. As far as the prospects that were lost, they’ll have a chance to head down a new path with a team willing to give them a shot.

While each prospect still has a chance to join another team and play out their careers, John Coppolella wasn’t so lucky. The former GM joins the shortlist of players that have been flat-out banned for life from the game of baseball. The ban places Coppolella in the same group as the Black Sox and Pete Rose for disgracing the game of baseball.

Was the punishment handed to the Atlanta Braves harsh? Of course, it was. However, it was also important in that it let clubs know that the MLB will not tolerate illicit international signings. MLB took a step towards more stringent signing rules with last year’s CBA. The Braves punishment is another step in the same direction.

 

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