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Coppolella promoted to GM by Braves

Assistant general manager did much of GM work in past year

ATLANTA -- After watching John Coppolella do most of the heavy lifting that encompassed the massive reconstruction process their organization has undergone over the past year, the Braves have named him their general manager.

A formal announcement was made during a Thursday afternoon news conference at Turner Field. Braves president of baseball operations John Hart will continue to oversee the department, but Coppolella will now have the title for the role he has essentially filled for the past year.

"It feels kind of surreal just to get that [GM] title because I was never really worried about titles or who was doing the work, you just want to be part of the team," Coppolella said. "But it's something now where, I don't want to say more accountable, but it's on you now. I've always been motivated and I've always been challenged. This just raises the bar a little higher."

Coppolella's creativity, work ethic led to GM role

When the Braves dismissed Frank Wren as their GM on Sept. 21, 2014, they opted not to fill his position immediately. Hart was given his current title and the assignment to help mold Coppolella as he served as an assistant GM, performing many of the same duties as a GM.

All along, the Braves knew Coppolella had the capability to earn this distinguished title.

"We didn't map out a plan, but we figured this is a really, really smart man," Braves president John Schuerholz said. "This guy is really sharp and works really hard. He's got a great work ethic and he really loves the Braves more than anything. That's the guy you want to keep your eyes on."

Video: [email protected]: Coppolella discusses being hired as new GM

Coppollella did much of the legwork to arrange the trades that sent Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Craig Kimbrel elsewhere and the mega deal that brought Hector Olivera from the Dodgers to the Braves on July 30. As he manufactured those deals, which helped reshape the farm system, compiled Draft picks and created financial flexibility in creative manners, he worked hand-in-hand with Hart, who served as an accomplished advisor and ultimate decision-maker.

"I called them Batman and Robin when I introduced those guys about a year ago," Schuerholz said. "They worked side-by-side and were deeply involved in trades. One did one part and the other did the other part of it. It turned out quite well and they did remarkable work in a short period of time. Coppy really, really did remarkable work in that process."

Along with providing guidance, Hart was the authoritative figure who provided final approval of those trades and harnessed the actions of the tireless and aggressive Coppolella, who has been a part of Atlanta's front office since leaving the Yankees at the conclusion of the 2006 season. The Brewers and Mariners both expressed interest in Coppolella as they moved toward filling their GM vacancies in September. But Coppolella did not end up interviewing for either position, ultimately because the Braves acquiesced his wish to become a GM while remaining in Atlanta.

Video: [email protected]: Shuerholz discusses hiring Coppolella as GM

"With a lot of the [GM] changes made out there, John was a desirable guy," Hart said. "That had nothing to do with our decision. But at the same time, [filling the GM role] is what we intended to do from the minute I took the job. The hope was that [Coppolella] would be that guy and he is absolutely that guy."

Coppolella, 37, served as Atlanta's director of baseball operations from 2006-10 and then was promoted to director of professional scouting in 2011. The Notre Dame graduate was elevated to the assistant GM position near the conclusion of the 2012 season, when the Astros were recruiting him to fill the same role in Houston.

"What we need to do is get back to young, winning, upside players," Coppolella said. "We took the first step toward that this year. We want to get back to where we can go to five World Series in nine years as it was done here during the 1990s."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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