Major League Baseball hits Braves with severe sanctions for violating signing rules

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Former Braves GM John Coppolella, who resigned from the position in October after MLB opened an investigation into his team's global signing practices, has been hammered the hardest, teceiving a lifetime ban from the sport for his role in the "violations of Major League Rules", commissioner Robert Manfred said in a statement Tuesday.

"In order to remedy these violations, I am releasing these players from their contracts with the Braves and declaring them free agents eligible to sign with any other Club", Manfred said. Maitan was the No. 1 worldwide prospect in 2016, and signed for a bonus of $4.2 million.

Coppolella was forced to resign as general manager on October 2 after Major League Baseball investigators disclosed that the Braves had flouted worldwide signing rules between 2015 and 2017.

Thirteen Braves prospects, including 17-year-old shortstop Kevin Maitan, have been declared free agents. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley, the team's global scouting chief, was suspended from performing services for any team for one year.

ATLANTA (AP) - Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred hit the Atlanta Braves with heavy sanctions, including the loss of 13 players, on Tuesday for rules violations committed by the team in the worldwide player market.

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"During the 2015-16 worldwide signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club's signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players".

The Braves also suffered penalties for circumventing worldwide signing rules in recent years.

Venezuelan shortstop Livan Soto and Dominican righthander Yefri del Rosario, who each signed for $1 million in 2016, have also been informed that they are free agents.

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.

The Braves said in a statement after MLB's announcement that they cooperated fully with the investigation and "understand and accept" the penalties.

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