Posted on October 2, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella abruptly resigned from his position Monday, one day after the end of the regular season. Coppolella’s decision to step down relates to an MLB investigation into whether the Braves may have broken rules regarding the signing of international players. Coppolella was just two years into a four-year contract as Atlanta’s GM. During his time as GM, he oversaw a massive rebuilding project that appears to have the Braves moving in the right direction.
“Major League Baseball is investigating the matter with our full cooperation and support,” Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said in a statement. “We will not be issuing any further comment until the investigation is complete.”
As the offseason begins for the Braves, Hart will perform the duties of GM until the team can hire Coppolella’s replacement. Gordon Blakely, a special assistant to the GM for the Braves, will also resign, according to Ken Rosenthal.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Coppolella has been the focal point of an MLB investigation during recent weeks. Passan states there has been “chaos” within the Braves organization in recent weeks. There were reportedly several accusations made against Coppolella, including at least one formal complaint that was filed with MLB.
As a result, MLB has launched a wide-ranging investigation that included Coppolella’s treatment of Braves employees, as well as the team’s draft and international free agent practices. At the moment, MLB appears to have little evidence to support the accusations made against Coppolella. However, the investigation was enough for him to tender his resignation.
During Coppolella’s two years as GM, the Braves have struggled to win games. Coppolella has been focused on acquiring young talent in a variety of ways. He has slowly built one of the best farm systems in baseball. With young talent stockpiled, the Braves appear ready to start competing for a spot in the postseason within the next year or two.
Before resigning, Coppolella had done much of the heavy lifting as far as Atlanta’s rebuilding project is concerned. His replacement may need to do little more than staying the course in order to make the Braves competitive again. However, an MLB investigation does leave a dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over the organization.
The lack of a full-time GM also adds uncertainty to the future of manager Brian Snitker. Snitker took over as interim manager in May 2016 and spent the rest of the season with the interim tag. He was made Atlanta’s full-time manager following last season. But he’s once again facing uncertainty over whether the Braves will invite him back next season.
“I’m basically where I was last year mentally,” Snitker said prior to Coppolella’s resignation. “Whatever the organization deems to be the best for this organization, I’m good with it. Like I’ve always said, if I keep doing this job, it’s not going to define my career. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished over the past 42 years.”
Whoever the Braves hire to replace Coppolella as GM will no doubt want input on who manages the team in 2018. Snitker and other members of the organization appear to be stuck in limbo until a replacement is found. Meanwhile, the Braves are not only looking for a new GM, but they must also wait to see what becomes of MLB’s investigation into Coppolella and the rest of the franchise.