Four days after the Atlanta Braves introduced new general manager and executive vice president Alex Anthoupoulos, the team’s previous head of baseball operations is officially parting ways with the club, effective immediately.
The team announced John Hart’s departure to “pursue other opportunities outside the organization” on Friday.
“This was a difficult decision, but it’s one that I made with the best interests of the Atlanta Braves in mind,” Hart said in a statement. “With the hiring of Alex Anthopoulos as general manager, this organization is in great hands. I believe that the talent of the Major League players, combined with the young talent soon to arrive, makes the Braves poised for a great run of success.
This is a good time to step aside and let Alex and his group put their stamp on this great franchise. I still have a tremendous passion for this great game, and I plan to stay active and contribute to the game.”
Following the resignation of former general manager John Coppolella and international scouting director Gordon Blakeley, both of whom worked under Hart in Atlanta’s front office, the team hired Anthoupoulos and moved Hart out of the baseball operations. At Monday’s news conference introducing Anthoupoulos, Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk said Hart would slide into a senior adviser role.
Major League Baseball is expected to announce its findings — and potential punishment — from its investigation into the Braves’ alleged circumventing of international signing rules within the next week.
In his statement, Hart also thanked McGuirk and Schuerholz for convincing him to oversee Atlanta’s rebuild process following the 2014 season.
Hart, the former Indians and Rangers general manager, first joined the Braves organization as a senior adviser prior after the 2013 season, influencing the team’s string of contract extensions for Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons.
After the team fired former GM Frank Wren following the disappointing 2014 campaign, Hart stepped in as the primary decision-maker in baseball operations, teaming up with Coppolella to build up one of baseball’s top farm systems by trading the likes of Kimbrel, Simmons, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Shelby Miller over the course of 13 months.
Hart’s replacement has repeatedly praise the work of his predecessors in building up an enviable young corps.
“The talent level, the work that’s been done here is tremendous. And that’s certainly a credit to all the administrations that have been here before over the years. You can look at the roster at the big-league level, at the minor-league level,” Anthopolous said at his introductory news conference. “I can’t give them enough credit for the talent that they have.
” … The minor leagues’ (talent) right now are as good as you’re gonna find in baseball. To have a head start like that is an outstanding opportunity.”