The fate of Braves manager Brian Snitker might’ve been decided by now if not for the sudden urgency of a Major League Baseball investigation into general manager John Coppolella, who was forced to resign Monday amid alleged infractions by he and his top international scouting official in the pursuit of international free agents.
“This (investigation) has been the focal point of all that we’ve been doing the last 72 hours,” Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said shortly after the announcement of Coppolella’s resignation.
Hart would have flown to Miami for the Braves’ season-ending series against the Marlins last week and met there with Snitker and coaches, then possibly again Monday if necessary. Instead, he was busy back in Atlanta attending to the growing inferno that would ultimately cost Coppolella his job.
The meeting with Snitker was pushed back to Monday afternoon, and Hart said a decision could come by mid-week on whether Snitker continues as Braves manager. He insisted that Coppolella’s resignation would have no effect on Snitker’s situation.
“It has nothing to do with it. Obviously that’ll be my call as we go forward,” Hart said. “I’m going to be talking with Brian. There’s some things we certainly want to continue to discuss. We’ll have something for you in the middle of the week on that one.”
The Braves hold a team option on Snitker’s contract for 2018 and could pick up that option, sign him to an extension, or decline the option and hire a new manager. Snitker, 61, has been with the Braves organization for 41 years and will likely stay in some capacity whether or not he’s retained as manager.
After posting a 45-45 record through July 16, the Braves were a National League-worst 27-45 the rest of the way and had a six-game losing streak in the last week of the season before winning Sunday’s finale at Miami.
There has been greatly increased speculation that Snitker would be dropped as manager after the late-season slide, and that at least two coaches could also get fired. But comments by Hart on Monday indicated that was far from a fait accompli that Snitker and multiple coaches would be let go.
“I don’t think anyone is running around and pointing fingers at our staff,” he said. “There were a lot of good things that happened this year and some things that didn’t, and there was a certain level of talent and level of inexperience and level of injuries that played a part. Certainly it was Brian’s first full year (as manager). There were some things that we’ll talk about.”
But the Coppolella situation will not significantly delay a decision on Snitker. “It’s not a setback. Brian understands,” Hart said. “He’s been great.”
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