After a weird interim season without a real GM and without many wins, the Atlanta Braves have finally decided on their man, promoting John Coppolella to general manager. Coppolella was serving as assistant GM / Director of Pro Scouting, but many reports say he was working hand in hand with John Hart who was President of Baseball Operations and a quasi-GM.
Coppolella was hotly sought after over the past year, and if certain reports are to be believed, nearly landed the Milwaukee Brewers job that eventually went to David Stearns. Stearns is only 30, but Coppolella isn’t much older, perhaps marking a trend for the league in seeking out general managers before their 40th birthday.
Coppolella started as an intern with the Yankees, eventually working his way up through the organization before being poached by Atlanta in 2006. He worked with John Schuerholz in his last season as GM, and then worked alongside Frank Wren through his tenure at the head of the Braves organization. After Wren was fired last year, no official general manager was named. Coppolella had plenty to do with the decisions the team made, but Hart still had to give his final approval. With this official promotion, it’s fairly safe to assume that’ll no longer be the case.
The Braves are in need of some change, as they’re barely going to avoid 100 losses for the 2015 season. The plus side to that is, at worst, they’re going to have the fifth pick in the 2016 draft. Still, for a franchise and fanbase so used to winning, having draft picks isn’t the same as 14 straight division titles. With the opening of the new stadium in 2017, the Braves are going to want to be competitive and christen Suntrust Park in a proper manner. Coppolella has just over a year to make that happen.
This season featured a lot of building up assets, and more of that could be on the way. Freddie Freeman has been tied to trade rumors over the past few months, but considering he’s one of the few fan-favorites and cornerstones this team has left, I’d be surprised if he goes anywhere. There’s also been talk of finding a way to secure the return of Craig Kimbrell, which could be a move that would instantly make John Coppolella a hero in the eyes of many, or at least give him a cushion in case of a few moves going south. At this point, it seems like the only sure things in Atlanta are Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, and Shelby Miller. Beyond that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 22 new players on the opening day roster by 2017.
John Coppolella has his work cut out for him, but all indications point toward him being the right man for the job.