John Hart Steps Down as Atlanta Braves President After 3 Years

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2017

Atlanta Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart, center, talks with reporters in the dugout before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

John Hart stepped down from his role as Atlanta Braves President of Baseball Operations on Friday amid an MLB investigation into the team's handling of the international player market.

The Braves announced the decision on social media and provided a statement from Hart, who's leaving to "pursue other opportunities outside the organization:"

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last month potential penalties for the alleged "multi-pronged malfeasance," which led to the exit of general manager John Coppolella and international scouting supervisor Gordon Blakeley, included a substantial fine, the loss of prospects acquired through the international market and restrictions of future signings from outside the United States.

On Thursday, Mark Bowman of noted an MLB ruling could arrive early next week and added: "The depth of Hart's involvement or knowledge, or lack thereof, of the alleged infractions may be better understood once MLB announces the penalties."

"The past few months have been the toughest in the storied history of the Atlanta Braves franchise," CEO Terry McGuirk told reporters this week. "Frankly, the Braves have not lived up to our standard that the fans expect of us and that we expect of ourselves. On behalf of the entire Braves family, I want to apologize to the fans and our partners. We’ve let you down and we will work to regain your trust."

Hart jointed the Braves organization in 2014 and worked alongside Coppolella on a massive rebuilding project, which featured several notable international signings, including Kevin Maitan.

The 69-year-old Florida native previously worked for the Cleveland Indians during their 1990s success, as well as making stops with the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers.

Meanwhile, Atlanta announced the hiring of former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos as their new GM to lead the franchise following the scandal.