Special assistant and international scouting supervisor Gordon Blakeley was also forced to resign with Coppolella on Oct. 2. Though Blakeley rescinded his resignation according to a person close to the situation, he has not continued as a Braves employee and met again last week with MLB offficials in the ongoing investigation.
That investigation is likely be completed within the next few weeks before the December Winter Meetings. The Braves are braced for heavy penalties including the possible loss of prospects and restrictions on future drafts and free-agent dealings.
The Braves’ first choice to lead their baseball operations was thought to be Dayton Moore, a former Atlanta assistant GM who left to become Royals GM and built Kansas City into a 2015 World Series champion. But Moore is still under contract and the Royals denied the Braves permission to interview him.
If Anthopoulos was a Plan B, then most baseball insiders would agree it was an impressive fallback for the Braves, especially considering the black eye the organization has absorbed since details of the investigation first began to leak.
Anthopoulos took over as Blue Jays general manager in 2009 and rebuilt that team into a division winner in 2015, ending a postseason drought of 22 years in Toronto.
His trades for Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price provided essential pieces that made the Blue Jays a playoff team again, and he was lauded for finding a way to trade Vernon Wells’ onerous contract and for signing Toronto standouts Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to club-friendly contract extensions.
Not every move he made worked out: Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud were traded to the Mets for R.A. Dickey, and there was a relatively small return when he traded away Blue Jays icon Roy Halladay. There were also a few free-agent signings that didn’t work out.
Still, on balance Anthopoulos is regarded as bright and astute.
The Greek Canadian native was a scout with the Expos and Blue Jays before becoming one of baseball’s youngest-ever GMs at age 32. Anthopoulos turned down extension offers to stay with Toronto as GM after the Blue Jays hired Mark Shapiro as president, a move that would have reduced Anthopoulos’ scope of influence as far as having final say over baseball matters.
While the Braves currently have John Hart as president of baseball operations, Hart’s contract expires at the end of the year and it’s not believed that he’ll continue in the same position, and if he does it almost certainly won’t be with the same power as Anthopoulos is expected to have final say in baseball matters regardless of title.
Hart was also being looked at by MLB in its investigation to determine whether he had knowledge of misdeeds by Coppolella and Blakeley.
Anthopoulos will be reunited in Atlanta with Perry Minasian, his former Blue Jays scouting director who was hired in September as Braves director of player personnel, a new position in the organization.