Braves: Update on Atlanta’s international free agency restrictions

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I guess giving teenagers petty cash is worse than actually cheating during games for Rob Manfred, but after today that’s finally behind Atlanta. The Braves are officially out of timeout. Besides having to release 13 prospects including (at the time) top signing Kevin Maitan, Atlanta was handed down serious monetary restrictions:

Atlanta will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period and its international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.
The reason for these penalties is that MLB found the Braves circumvented the international signing rules during each of the past three signing periods.

If the Braves would have signed the five players to contracts including their actual bonuses, they would have exceeded their signing pool by more than 5 percent and thus would have been restricted from signing a player for more than $300,000 during either of the next two signing periods.
As a result, MLB determined that each of the nine players who signed for more than $300,000 should be declared free agents. This included Maitan; Gutierrez; pitchers Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario and Guillermo Zuniga; outfielder Juan Carlos Negret; and infielders Yenci Peña, Yunior Severino and Livan Soto.

Rob Manfred is a clown for this, and he only did it because John Coppolella wouldn’t snitch on his own team. John Hart had no problem rolling over, but Coppy stood ten toes down and took his lifetime ban like a man. I guess the Astros cheating during the World Series and Boston stealing signs only warrants one year suspensions and no significant penalties, though.

At least that is all in the past. As of today, the Braves officially signed Dominican shortstop Ambioris Tavarez to a deal. Atlanta’s money was still limited due to the restrictions and signing Marcell Ozuna the year before. Even though this is the 2020 international class, the date (today, January 15th) was pushed back due to COVID-19.

So although it seems like Atlanta should still be penalized, this is the last year. While signing pools will vary (they were frozen to 2019 numbers due to COVID), the Braves can go back to making a splash on the international free agent market — something they did very well even before the violations.

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