After seven weeks of hell, the Braves have been handed down their punishment from the MLB. It was not pretty.
The MLB has been investigated what was reportedly a very cancerous Braves front office, but more importantly their misconduct with international players. Many fans were excited when the team hauled in a legendary IFA class in 2016. Now, these players have been deemed free agents. The following players will no longer be property of Atlanta:
Yefri del Rosario
Juan Carlos Negret
That is a lot of names, and it is even worse when considering the Braves will not be allowed to sign Robert Puason, a 14-year old they reportedly had a verbal agreement with. Maitan aside, the Braves still have the cream of the crop in their farm system. Reports have also said that the Braves were not that impressed with Maitan in their short time with the team. This could be a defensive mechanism from the front office or it could be true. Regardless, they are still loaded. It is the restrictions over the next two signing periods that will hurt them most. They will only be able to sign players for $10k each next period and will have their cap cut in half for the following period. The Braves also lost a third-round pick for “allegedly” offering draft pick Drew Waters a car to agree to a lower signing bonus.
At the end of the day, though, this may be for the better. Sure, the sanctions will hold the organization back, but they now have a more qualified general manager in Alex Anthopolous. There have been a bunch of reports saying that John Coppolella is basically just a terrible person and turned the front office into an array of chaos. This is not the way the Braves should represent themselves. Anthopolous is still young and could end up being a blessing in disguise for this organization. The Braves are still absolutely loaded and are in a great position for success. Now they must emphasize drafting well because this will have to be their main way to load up the pipeline for the next few seasons.
These punishments hurt. Rob Manfred has clearly been trying to regulate what is going on in Latin America, between this and the Red Sox punishment. It is probably the right move. Latin America has become the Wild West. It is just a shame that the Braves had to be the team to take the fall. At the end of the day, though, fans should not be mad. The Braves cheated, and pretty blatantly at that. Now, they have been punished. This was not a death sentence from the MLB, but it certainly has put every team on notice and will make them think twice about bending the rules. Time will only tell if the culture changes.