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A history of MLB penalties and potential impact on the Braves

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Here is a look at the three times MLB has had to step in and penalize a ball club for actions committed within the front office.

Jeff Morris

The recent article($) over on The Athletic by Ken Rosenthal seems to indicate that the penalties the Braves are facing for their rules violations are close to happening and that they will be significant. Rosenthal mentions that at the very least the Braves are going to lose some of their international signings, but doesn’t indicate who will be lost as commissioner Rob Manfred is still trying to decide on the full penalties.

Rosenthal mentioned top prospect Kevin Maitan as a possibility, but left it at just that- a possibility, and didn’t mention any other prospects by name. This isn’t news to anyone, as it’s been reported for a while that Maitan could be involved and potentially lost, and that’s basically all Rosenthal had with Maitan. Whether he knows something about Maitan, or names him to help get clicks considering Maitan is easily the biggest prospect in this mess is still up for debate.

I personally took the article as: penalties will happen soon. Multiple players will be lost. Kevin Maitan and other high profile signees like Abrahan Gutierrez could potentially be involved. Along with the fact there will be some additional penalties.

These penalties will be unprecedented- and they probably should be as the Braves violations seem to be unprecedented as well. So I thought now would be a good chance to take a look at how some of the other front office related penalties from Major League Baseball happened. I was only able to find three of them, but the breakdown of them can be found below.

Boston Red Sox

When-July 2016

Crime-Signing several Latin American prospects to “package deals.” Also known as giving lesser players a much larger bonus than they are worth to compensate for not being able to spend more than $300k on their top targets. These “lesser“ prospects take home an extra $200k each for example- money that gets split between their trainer and potentially the higher profile player who couldn’t sign for more than $300k due to the Red Sox international spending penalties.

Punishment-The Red Sox lost two of their top 2015 signings, Simon Muzziotti(Phillies) and Albert Guaimaro(Marlins), who are among their new teams’ Top 30 prospects already. They also lost several other players including Antonio Pinero, Eduardo Torrealba, and Cesar Gonzalez. Those five got to keep their Red Sox bonus and were free agents able to sign elsewhere with only the amount over $300k with the new team counting towards the new team’s bonus pool. So if one signed for $1M, only $700k would count towards the new team’s pool. This was the biggest part of the penalties.

In addition the Red Sox weren’t able to sign free agents in the 2016 class of international free agents. This amounts to a slap on the wrist because the Red Sox were only going to be able to sign players up to $300k in 2016, but chose not to penalize them for 2017 when they were free to spend as they wished within their bonus pool- similar to the Braves situation.

Similarity-This is the most similar to the Braves in that it involves Latin American free agents. The players the Red Sox signed however are no where near the types of players the Braves signed. This distinction is important because giving a guy $300k that doesn’t count against a bonus pool isn’t the same thing as giving a guy $4M plus however much a team has in its bonus pool. MLB doesn’t want to create a crazy $10M bidding war if it can avoid it, but at the same time there is some precedent.

St. Louis Cardinals

When-January 2017 for a crime that took place in 2015. A trial for the former Cardinals employee had to take place first.

Crime-Hacking the Houston Astros computer database

Punishment-The Cardinals had to give the Astros their first two draft choices this year(56 and 75 overall) as well as $2M.

Similarity-Very limited. The Cardinals crime was an actual criminal issue unlike the Braves, and it was done against one specific team. The only similarity could be that draft picks were taken from the Cardinals and that could also happen with the Braves.

San Diego Padres

When-July 2016-September 2016

Crime-Padres general manager AJ Preller hid injury information on players in a pair of trades, with the Red Sox(Drew Pomeranz) and Marlins(Collin Rea).

Punishment-General manager AJ Preller was suspended for 30 days by baseball.

Similarity-Almost none other than a general manager who did something to anger other GM’s. Preller hid info, while the Braves tried to do whatever they can to acquire talent. Also the main sources of this issue are no longer Braves employees- something that differs from Preller’s status in San Diego.