Major League Baseball drops death penalty on Braves, bans John Coppolella for life

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge hits a two-run home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York. Houston dynamo Jose Altuve and Yankees slugger Aaron Judge are the

MLB hammers Atlanta Braves, declaring 12 minor league players free agents

Former GM John Coppolella, who lost his job amid the investigation, has been barred for life, while former scout Gordon Blakely will be suspended for one year.

Manfred says an investigation conducted by Major League Baseball determined the Braves circumvented worldwide signing rules from 2015 through 2017, by moving bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Major League Baseball has confirmed in a statement that the Braves will lose the rights to shortstop prospect Kevin Maitan and 12 other worldwide signees.

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The Braves said in a statement released Tuesday they "understand and accept the decision regarding the penalties that have been handed down".

Those three players are now free to sign with any team, along with fellow 2016 prospects Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Peña, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga and 2017 signees Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre.

The league determined that the Braves had packaged global signing bonuses during the two-year signing period from 2016-17 to 2017-18, which is in violation of MLB rules. As a result, Atlanta will be stripped of their third-round pick in 2018.

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Maitan and the other players will be allowed to sign with the remaining 29 Major League Baseball teams, who can use their leftover money from the current signing period or dip into next year's pool to sign them. None will be eligible to re-sign with the Braves.

In a statement, the Braves said the organization "has not lived up to the standard our fans expect from us and that we expect from ourselves".

Manfred also prohibited the team from signing any worldwide player for more than $10,000 once the 2019-20 period rolls around; the following year, the organization will be reduced 50 percent on its spending limit. "We are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again and remain excited about the future of Braves baseball".

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The Braves were found to have offered impermissible benefits to draft picks as well in order to circumvent their limited signing bonus pool.

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