The Braves announced on Friday that former president of baseball operations John Hart has stepped down and is leaving the organization “to pursue other opportunities.” Hart’s departure comes less than two months after GM John Coppolella resigned from his post due to infractions on the international free agent market and in the domestic amateur draft.
While it has been reported that the league would not sanction Hart based on its investigation into the matter, Hart was moved to a diminished role (senior advisor) earlier this week when Alex Anthopoulos was hired as the team’s new general manager and given full authority over the baseball operations department.
Through a team press release, Hart issued the following statement:
“This was a difficult decision, but it’s one that I made with the best interests of the Atlanta Braves in mind. With the hiring of Alex Anthopoulos as general manager, this organization is in great hands. I believe that the talent of the Major League players, combined with the young talent soon to arrive, makes the Braves poised for a great run of success. This is a good time to step aside and let Alex and his group put their stamp on this great franchise.
I still have a tremendous passion for this great game, and I plan to stay active and contribute to the game. I want to thank Braves fans – the best fans in baseball – for your patience during this rebuilding time. You will soon see the winning team that you deserve. I also want to thank my beautiful and supportive family. I am very excited to see how the next chapter of our life unfolds. Finally, I want to thank my longtime friend, John Schuerholz, for convincing me to come to Atlanta to oversee the rebuild. And especially to our leader, Terry McGuirk, who has shown such passion for returning to a winning place. Thank you all, and Go Braves!”
The extent to which Hart was or was not involved in the club’s front-office scandal may never be fully known. There’s a prevailing argument, though, that it’s equally as damning for the president of an organization to be completely in the dark while his two of his primary lieutenants (at least) commit what has been reported to be an “unprecedented” level of violations on the amateur talent acquisition front. Suffice it to say, his resignation — whether forced or voluntary — comes with little surprise.
Hart may well land with another organization in an advisory capacity down the road, depending on the findings of the league’s investigation. If it is deemed that his sole transgression was merely a lack of oversight of his charges, a club could look past that in order to hire an advisor with nearly two decades of experience as a president or general manager and is considered one of the more influential executives in MLB history. Hart has also served as a television analyst on MLB Network in the past and could look into other media opportunities as well.