During one of my random time of day Twitter scrolls, I found an article from sporting news about the Atlanta Braves punishment and I had to click the article to see what the heck they were talking about. And reading the article, I’m surprised that this story was bigger news among the sports news outlets, because really it’s a big enough scandal and should be read as a warning to other teams.
You have no idea what I’m talking about do you? It’s okay, I was confused to, so let me bring you up to speed.
Basically the gist of the situation is, the Atlanta Braves from 2015-17 used questionable tactics to sign international players. According to the article (you can read the whole thing here)written by Ryan Fagan, “the MLB investigation turned up mountains of evidence of wrongdoing – deliberate, conniving, complicated efforts to circumvent the system in place.”
The Braves fired their General Manager John Coppolella and the MLB banned him for life. So like Pete Rose, Coppolella isn’t allowed to be employed by any baseball team or even work as an agent for the sport. The 13 players signed during this time are now free agents, which like the article states sucks royally the Braves while the players are not affected. If anything this bodes well for the players since they still get to keep their signing bonus and also get to play for other teams.
And here’s where the the punishment gets a lot more interesting, besides losing 13 players the Braves also cannot give a player more than a $10,000 bonus during the 19-20 signing period, and they lose half of their bonus pool for the following year. They also lose a 2018 draft pick because they stupidly offered one of their 2017 draft picks in one of their under-the-table incentives to sign.
So now you see why this is a big deal for the MLB, I mean do you really think that the Braves were the only team doing this kind of thing? Sure, they might have been the only one doing it on such a large scale, but if I were the other MLB teams I would be taking a good hard look at how they have signed international players to make sure it was on the up-and-up.
Which brings me to my main point of posting this article, how was this not big news? I watch SportsCenter fairly regularly and this wasn’t mentioned once. It wasn’t mentioned by any of the outlets I follow across multiple platforms and seemed to just slip into the news cycle. This should’ve dominated the news cycle because cheating scandals in baseball are usually big news because of the league’s “America’s Past Time” moniker they are constantly using. So why wasn’t this big news? Is it because it’s the Atlanta Braves that got caught and not a team like the Chicago Cubs or the Boston Red Sox?
Which fun fact, did you know that the Red Sox also got dinged in 2016 for a similar infraction? It wasn’t as wide scale as this one, but still it managed to slip under the news’ radar.
This punishment will most definitely shake the remaining teams into keeping their international signing practices above the table (for awhile at least). It will also be interesting to see what happens next season with the Braves.