A week ago today Major League Baseball slammed the hammer down on the Atlanta Braves as the result of their violations of rules on the international free agent market. They lost over a dozen prospects and were subjected to severe restrictions with respect to future international signees over the next four years.
Former Braves General Manager John Coppolella was hit the hardest personally, as he was placed on MLB’s permanently ineligible list, which essentially bans him from working in baseball for life.
Today Rob Manfred made a comment that suggested why Coppolella was hit so hard. He was on ESPN’s radio show Golic and Wingo this morning and, when asked about the penalties, he said “[w]hile the Braves were completely cooperative in the investigative process, I can’t say the same for John.”
Coppolella was forced to resign on October 2 and the investigation lingered on through October and November. At one point there was a report that Coppolella was considering litigation. He may be still. It would not shock me if his lack of cooperation with Major League Baseball was at least in part a function of protecting whatever positions he might take in litigation in the future.
Which may not have helped him too much in the short term, but really what does he have to lose? If he cooperated he still would be without a job and would maybe have a two or three year ban at best. What are his big league job prospects after that? As a scout maybe? Even that might be too much to expect. In the meantime, he has to find a new job either way. If, as some have suggested, he has some sort of credible claim against the Braves or MLB, however, he’s best served to keep his powder dry, right?
I have no idea what any of those theoretical claims could be, but if he is thinking about suing, not cooperating was probably the smart play, really.