Report: John Coppolella considering legal action against the Braves

Associated Press
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The Atlanta Braves recently forced out General Manager John Coppolella after he allegedly broke MLB rules regarding international signees. One of Coppolella’s assistants was also fired and several scouts and others in the organization are under scrutiny. Major League Baseball is investigating the violations, which are reported to be “unprecedented in scope.”

There’s more of this to watch, however, at least based on this story from Bill Shanks in the Macon Telegraph from over the weekend.  It seems that, despite Copolella being forced out in infamy, the Braves offered him a severance package recently and Coppolella is considering a lawsuit:

Word is that Coppolella was offered a financial buyout of severance from the Braves and turned it down this past week and that he has hired an attorney with lawsuits possibly coming. I asked several scouts if they had ever heard of a fired executive being offered a severance, especially after being let go for these type allegations. All were amazed that Coppolella would be offered a financial package after being forced to resign.

Why on Earth would you offer a severance package to a guy who, according to the story currently being told, grossly violated the rules? A guy who, it is not unreasonable to assume, may have cost the Braves draft picks or already-signed prospects, depending on how MLB wants to handle it? More significantly: what possible legal action might Copolella have against the Braves if, as reported, he went rogue and ignored all manner of scouting and signing rules? Generally getting fired for cause disqualifies you from pulling the cord on whatever golden parachutes you were promised.

Without knowing any of the specifics of what happened with the Braves, it’s worth noting that this is not the first scandal involving international scouting practices in baseball. It is also worth noting that, when Coppolella stepped down, many folks on social media joked and speculated that, like NCAA violations and other institutional sports scandals, Coppolella wasn’t the first person to do the things he is accused of doing, just an unfortunate person who was caught doing them. There has always been an element of rule bending, rule breaking and an overall wild west thing about sports recruiting of any kind.

Maybe the report on the severance is wrong. Maybe Coppolella’s potential causes of action are just based on technical and benign employment contract matters. But against the backdrop of sports scandals as we’ve come to know them, part of me wonders if Copolella sees himself as a fall guy here, singled out for behavior that was either actively or tacitly validated by higher ups. Higher ups who, in the past, have been reported to have veto power on big decisions limiting Coppolella in ways that other general managers aren’t always limited. Higher ups who based on this report anyway, took the unusual step of offering a severance package to their disgraced executive. Not saying he’d be right to think that way — we have no idea what, say, John Hart or John Schuerholz knew about Coppolella’s activities — but people involved in scandal often point to the people above them on the org chart when the crap hits the fan.

Things that make you go hmmm. Things that make me want to continue watching this story very closely.

(h/t to Shaun from Atlanta Baseball Talk)

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.