The Atlanta Braves got into some serious trouble with Major League Baseball over improper conduct while signing international free agents.  The sanctions levied against the Braves were heavy.  Braves general manager John Coppolella was placed on the permanently ineligible list (like Pete Rose and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson) and 17 prospects were declared free agents.  The Phillies took advantage of the situation and signed one of the recently set-free prospects.

According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Phillies have signed catcher Abrahan Gutierrez.  Gutierrez signed with the Atlanta Braves in the 2016-2017 signing period for a sum of $3.53 million.  Gutierrez will get to keep all of that money, while signing with the Phillies for $550,000. issued this scouting report of Gutierrez upon his original deal with the Braves:

Last year he was being called “another Mike Piazza.” Gutierrez’s status has dimmed a bit, but the Braves still believe he could become an elite prospect. His fielding gets the best grades as of now, with a strong arm and good mechanics behind the plate. But the feeling is he can become an offensive player – maybe not to the level of Piazza, but perhaps better than Christian Bethancourt.

Having just turned 18 in October, there is plenty of time for development.

Teams were given the option to use funds from the current year's international bonus pool allotment or next year's.   The Phillies used international bonus pool money from the 2017-2018 period.  The Phillies had about $900,000 left, including monies acquired in July trades.

The move probably also shows that the Phillies are not likely to land Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, recently posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters.  The teams competing to sign Ohtani may have as much as $3.5 million available to sign him from the current year's bonus pool.

The Phillies made a similar move a year ago, signing former Red Sox signee Simon Muzziotti.  The Venezuelan outfielder was declared a free agent when the Boston Red Sox failed to follow proper protocol.  The Red Sox were banned from making any international signings for a year, and several prospects were declared free agents, including Muzziotti.  The Phillies signed him for $750,000.

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