Major League Baseball drops death penalty on Braves, bans John Coppolella for life

John Coppolella Braves

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.

Former Braves general manager John Coppolella has received a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball.

The Dodgers, Angels and other teams have exceeded their bonus pools for signing global amateurs at various times, well aware that the result would be a severe reduction on what they could offer worldwide amateurs for the subsequent two years. Former special assistant Gordon Blakely has been suspended a year.

The Braves might be the ones who are paying the price, but this is clearly meant as a message from commissioner Rob Manfred, with more and more worldwide players coming into the game.

Other "high-value" players the Braves will lose include Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga.

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Maitan, a 17-year-old shortstop from Venezuela, is the top prospect of the group, ranked fifth among Braves farmhands by MLB.com. None will be eligible to re-sign with the Braves.

In addition to suspending Coppolella and Blakeley, MLB also declared nine Braves players to be free agents.

Manfred said an investigation conducted by Major League Baseball determined the Braves circumvented worldwide signing rules from 2015 through 2017 by moving bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Those measures include the Braves being limited to offering no more than a $10,000 bonus to any player in the 2019-20 signing class and losing half of their worldwide signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 class.

The Braves said in a statement after MLB's announcement that they cooperated fully with the investigation and "understand and accept" the penalties.

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