NOVEMBER 21: An announcement could come today, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman adds on Twitter. Notably, he says to expect a “severe” punishment that strips the Braves of “many” recent international signees.
NOVEMBER 20: League action seems to be imminent, as Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that MLB has set meetings for tomorrow with certain Braves prospects. Though specific identities are not known, the report says that “nearly all of the team’s top international signings from 2016” are scheduled to speak with the league’s representatives. You can read Badler’s round-up of that huge signing class at this link with a BA subscription.
NOVEMBER 15: It’s been more than a month since Braves general manager John Coppolella and international scouting director Gordon Blakely resigned amid a league investigation into what has since been reported to be an “unprecedented” level of rules violations on the international market and in the domestic amateur draft. While there’s yet to be any official resolution, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Braves will “definitely” lose some prospects that were signed out of Latin America.
Previous reports have suggested that top 2016-17 signing Kevin Maitan, who received a $4.25MM signing bonus, could be among any potential losses, though it’s not yet clear which prospect(s) Atlanta stands to lose. There could be further penalties yet, however, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted earlier this morning that it seems likely that the Braves will be banned from signing any international amateurs for at least one signing period. O’Brien also noted that there’s a “good chance” the Braves will lose some prospects as punishment, while Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweeted that he’d be “surprised” if the Braves didn’t lose at least one prospect, listing Maitain, Ji-Hwan Bae and Abrahan Gutierrez as potential prospects that could be impacted.
The Red Sox found themselves in a scandal that cost them prospects in July 2016. Boston forced to tear up the contracts of five international prospects that were deemed to have been acquired as part of a “package deals” system. In essence, the team overpaid marginal prospects whose trainers also represented more highly regarded young talents, with the trainers then funneling money to the superior prospect as a means of circumventing Boston’s spending limitations.
Those five prospects were allowed to keep their initial signing bonuses and became free agents that were once again subject to international bonus pools. The Red Sox were barred from signing any international amateurs during the 2016-17 period, so there’d certainly be precedent for imposing a signing ban on the Braves.
Per Rosenthal, any Braves prospects whose contracts are voided as a result of the league’s investigation will be treated in that same manner rather than being deemed unrestricted free agents.