Braves' makeover on offense begins with hitting coach

Long, Magadan on radar to fill vacancy, but both drawing interest elsewhere

Braves' makeover on offense begins with hitting coach

ATLANTA -- Over the next few weeks and months, the Braves could make a few significant moves that would alter the makeup of an offense that spent this past season as one of the least productive since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966.

In the meantime, the Braves are continuing to consider Kevin Long, Dave Magadan and other candidates to fill the hitting-coach vacancy that was created when Greg Walker resigned on Sept. 30.

Though Long and Magadan stand as two of the most popular choices on the current hitting-coach market, the demand they are receiving from other clubs has seemingly decreased the likelihood that either will end up in Atlanta.

With the Yankees, Mets, A's and Brewers also in search of a hitting coach, the Braves understand the benefit of making a decision as soon as possible. But it appears they are still evaluating a handful of candidates, all of whom are believed to have either served as a hitting coach or assistant hitting coach at the Major League level.

Whomever ends up getting the job will be tasked with improving an offense that tallied the third fewest runs per game (3.54) in Atlanta history, which dates back to 1966. The only Atlanta clubs to produce a lower total were the 1968 squad that proved futile during "The Year of the Pitcher" and the 1988 club that lost 106 games.

The Braves are committed to doing whatever it takes to move B.J. Upton, who is owed approximately $46 million over the next three seasons. They could also opt to move Evan Gattis, who will likely garner attention from American League clubs that could use him as a designated hitter. But the biggest decisions will center on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, who both could be traded before they become eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.

Though he is currently employed by the Rangers -- who last week hired Jeff Banister as their new manager -- Magadan has been given permission to speak to other clubs. The Braves seemed to have genuine interest in him. Magadan is also exploring the possibility of becoming the next hitting coach of the A's or the Mets.

Long was dismissed as the Yankees hitting coach after the club's offense did not live up to expectations this season. Thoughts that he would end up filling the same role in Boston were erased on Sunday, when the Red Sox hired Chili Davis.

Former Braves catcher Brian McCann is among the many Yankee players who have praised the work Long did while spending the past eight seasons as hitting coach of the Bronx Bombers. Like Magadan, Long is also drawing some interest from the Mets.

"He's one of the best coaches I've ever had," McCann said. "He's very intelligent and you can't outwork that guy. You're not going to beat him to the [hitting] cages and he's going to put in whatever time necessary."

Interim general manager John Hart's influence created the possibility that the Braves would target some of the players or coaches who were part of the highly successful run he had with the Indians during the 1990s. But that seemed to fade two weeks ago, when former Cleveland slugger Jim Thome did not show interest when contacted about the Atlanta vacancy.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.