4:34pm: Eppler and Cohen met face-to-face in New York recently, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. That meeting concluded with an offer to become the team’s new general manager, but Eppler is first traveling back home to California to weigh things with his family.
4:02pm: The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli tweets that despite the barrage of rumored candidates over the past several weeks, Eppler is the first to progress to the point of receiving a formal offer from the team.
3:56pm: The Mets have offered their vacant general manager post to former Angels GM Billy Eppler, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). SNY’s Andy Martino tweeted earlier today that the Mets had increased interest in Eppler and viewed him as a strong candidate. Eppler was dismissed by the Angels following the 2020 season and is not currently with a team; rather, he joined the staff at William Morris Endeavor in September — the agency that represents star free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa.
Eppler is no stranger to New York City after a decade-long run in the Yankees’ front office prior to his run with the Halos. The now-46-year-old broke into baseball as a scout with the Rockies in the early 2000s before joining the Yankees in that same role. He was eventually named the Yankees’ director of scouting and, in 2011, promoted to the title of assistant general manager — a role he’d hold until being hired to lead the Angels’ baseball operations staff following the 2015 season.
The Angels opted to move on from Eppler last offseason despite a year remaining on his contract, as he’d not yet produced a postseason team during that time. Of course, Eppler also inherited a barren farm system a payroll outlook that was bogged down by an ownership-driven signing of Albert Pujols, and a team that was in the “penalty box” in terms of international signing capabilities for the first couple years of his tenure there.
To Eppler’s credit, the Angels wooed Shohei Ohtani under his watch and also worked out a record extension with center fielder Mike Trout, likely keeping him in Anaheim for the duration of his career. It was also under Eppler that the Angels extended Justin Upton on an ill-fated five-year contract and signed Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, $245MM that did nothing to address the team’s rotation deficiencies — although as Maria Torres of the L.A. Times explored at the time of that 2019 signing, owner Arte Moreno’s fixation on acquiring Rendon pre-dated Eppler’s hiring as general manager.
Free-agent spending was generally limited for Eppler — not surprising given the mammoth outlays on the books — and often resulted in a series of one-year deals for high-risk players. Signings of Matt Harvey, Julio Teheran, Tim Lincecum, Cody Allen and Trevor Cahill didn’t prove fruitful, nor was a three-year deal for infielder Zack Cozart, which was the only free-agent deal other than Rendon that was priced at even $20MM during Eppler’s tenure. In addition to the struggles in free agency, many of the Angels’ homegrown arms were regularly injured and/or wildly inconsistent.
Free agency is only one piece of the puzzle for any baseball ops leader, though, and it should be noted that Eppler has a pretty solid track record on the trade front. The Angels’ initial acquisition of Upton was shrewd, prior to that regrettable extension, and several other notable trades under his watch panned out quite well for the Angels. Andrelton Simmons, Patrick Sandoval, Max Stassi, Tommy La Stella, Felix Pena and Dylan Bundy (who was excellent for the Halos in 2020) were all acquired at generally minimal cost. Eppler had a knack for finding waiver gems, too, as evidenced by the team’s success with Hansel Robles, Brian Goodwin, Blake Parker and Noe Ramirez.
Whether Eppler ultimately takes the role he’s the type of executive who was seemingly on Mets owner Steve Cohen’s radar early on. While recent Mets targets have generally been the second or third in command of opposing teams’ baseball operations hierarchies, Eppler is an experienced baseball ops leader who is familiar with big markets and comes with some name recognition. That falls more in line with Cohen’s early pursuits of Theo Epstein, David Stearns and Billy Beane than with recent interest in a slew of assistant GMs around the league.
If Eppler does eventually take the role, he could get the opportunity to operate with a bit more latitude than was afforded to him under the Halos and Moreno. At this point in the Mets’ search it feels as though any development should be accompanied by a “nothing’s official yet” caveat, but this is the most advanced reported interest in any of the team’s many candidates to date.