Braves GM John Coppolella quits suddenly amid MLB investigation

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Mike Oz
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Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella suddenly and surprisingly stepped down Monday, as details started to surface about the Braves being in violation of MLB’s rules regarding the market for international players.

Coppolella, 38, was one of MLB’s youngest GMs. He took over the job in 2015, after serving as the Braves’ interim general manager, and has built the Braves into one of MLB’s top farm systems. Gordon Blakeley, who serves as a special assistant to the GM for Atlanta, is also resigning, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Here’s the announcement from the Braves on Coppolella stepping down:

Atlanta Braves General Manager John Coppolella has resigned from his position, effective immediately. The resignation comes as a result of a breach of Major League Baseball rules regarding the international player market.

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

The organization will begin an immediate search for Coppolella’s replacement and Hart will perform the GM duties until a replacement is named.

Ex-Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella, left, with President of Baseball Operations John Hart during 2017 spring training. (AP)
Ex-Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella (L) with President of Baseball Operations John Hart during 2017 spring training. (AP)

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports Coppolella had been at the center of an MLB investigation in recent weeks:

Under Coppolella’s watch, the Braves haven’t done much winning, but their focus has largely been elsewhere. They were 72-90 this season and lost 93 and 95 games in the years before that. This year, however, the Braves opened their new suburban stadium and built a roster that complemented their young prospects with veteran players like Matt Kemp, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Brandon Phillips.

Meanwhile, the Braves were building one of the best farm systems in the sport. Theirs was ranked No. 1 by MLB Pipeline before the season and No. 2 in the August mid-season rankings. From a player-acquisition standpoint, Coppolella’s most memorable move was getting No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, pitching prospect Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte, an All-Star this season, in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Shelby Miller, who had a 6.15 ERA last season, and required Tommy John surgery this season.

The Braves’ farm-system wealth — including No. 5 overall prospect Ronald Acuna and four players in the top 40 — means whomever takes over Coppolella’s old post will have a team that is well-positioned to compete in the years ahead. Maybe not 2018, but pretty soon.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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