Former Braves special assistant and international scouting chief Gordon Blakeley is not going down quietly, which might be the last thing the Braves want to hear as they try to turn the page on an ugly chapter in franchise history.
Blakeley, who was forced to resign Oct. 2 and last week was hit with a one-year suspension from baseball for his part in violations that drew severe penalties for the Braves from Major League Baseball, said he’ll meet Dec. 14 with officials from Liberty Media (Braves ownership) to discuss what high-ranking team officials knew about the rule-breaking – including officials who’ve so far avoided MLB discipline.
He said it would be his first meeting with Liberty Media officials since the MLB investigation began some four months ago.
MLB’s investigation focused primarily on a variety of Braves infractions in the international free-agent market over a two-year period. The infractions cost the Braves 13 prospects who were declared free agents by MLB and some $20 million in signing bonuses they can’t recoup. They cost Blakeley his job, cost former general manager John Coppolella his career -- he drew a rare lifetime ban from baseball – and led to former president of baseball operations John Hart being stripped of his decision-making role in baseball matters.
Hart was reassigned to a special adviser’s position 2-1/2 weeks ago, a position from which he stepped down three days later. But he hasn’t drawn the public wrath of MLB.
Blakeley has indicated that high-ranking team officials were aware of everything that he and Coppolella were doing, and Blakeley said he will discuss with Liberty Media officials what he said he told MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in a Nov. 9 meeting in New York about the involvement and/or awareness of those other team officials in the infractions.
Braves CEO Terry McGuirk said at a Wednesday breakfast with Braves season ticket holders at SunTrust Park, in a quote that an attendee posted on Twitter, that a "rogue employee" focusing on Dominican prospects would not bring down a proud franchise.
McGuirk and other Braves officials have otherwise declined to comment on the MLB investigation before or since the penalties were announced last week by MLB. Commissioner Manfred said at that time he intended to discipline “other Braves’ international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct after the completion of our internal procedures” related to the investigation.