Braves hire veteran special assistant away from Yankees

The Braves haven’t named a new general manager yet, but they hired a highly regarded scouting guru away from the New York Yankees to serve as a special assistant to that GM.

Gordon Blakeley, who has spent a quarter of a century as a scout or special assistant with the Mariners and since 1998 with the Yankees, has joined a Braves front office that is being reshaped since the Sept. 22 firing of general manager Frank Wren, assistant GM Bruce Manno and Jeff Wren, special assistant to (and brother of) the GM.

The Braves are expected to announce changes to their coaching staff soon, and could get permission from major league baseball to make that announcement while the division series are going on. Teams are asked not to make such announcements during the playoffs without first receiving permission.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez is expected to be brought back for the 2015 season, but there will probably be multiple changes to his staff. Hitting coach Greg Walker has already stepped down after a season in which the Braves scored the second-fewest runs in the major leagues and hit .206 during a 7-18 September collapse that took them out of postseason contention.

Blakeley has helped sign a long list of marquee talent including Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano, Hideki Matsui, Jason Varitek and many others. Rated as one of the top general-manager candidates in the game by Baseball America a decade ago, as recently as 2012 was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Red Sox GM job when it was vacant.

Braves assistant GM John Coppolella worked closely with Blakeley during the first years of Coppolella’s career with the Yankees during 2000-2006.

For now Blakeley will assist John Hart, the former general manager of the Indians and Rangers, who is serving as interim GM for the Braves. Hart has a standing offer to take the permanent position.

Although it initially seemed unlikely, Hart, 66, is considering taking the position, according to persons familiar with the situation. Hart was hired by the Braves as a senior adviser in November 2013.

A decade ago, Blakeley was rated as one of the top general-manager candidates in baseball. He has served as vice president of international and professional scouting, a senior vice president of player personnel, and since 2008 as a special assistant to GM Brian Cashman.