11:59pm: The Angels have officially announced the hiring of Eppler, who receives a four-year contract to become the team’s GM. Eppler will report directly to owner Arte Moreno and, according to the team’s release, will “oversee all aspects of the club’s baseball operations.”
7:12pm: The Angels will announce tomorrow that Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler will be their next GM, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Eppler will replace Jerry Dipoto, who resigned in July.
The Angels were, of course, eliminated from playoff contention today, so they won’t be playing the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted yesterday that the possibility of an Angels/Yankees matchup might be one reason the Angels were waiting to officially hire a top Yankees executive.
The Angels had been connected to a number of other candidates, including Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes (who had reportedly been the other top candidate), Red Sox assistant GM (and now GM) Mike Hazen, Blue Jays assistant Tony La Cava, Indians VP of player personnel Ross Atkins, Rangers assistant Thad Levine, Mariners farm director Chris Gwynn, and internal candidates Hal Morris, Matt Klentak and Scott Servais. Several reports, however, had previously named Eppler as the front-runner.
Eppler worked as a scout in the Rockies organization before being hired by the Yankees in 2004. In 2005, the Yankees promoted him to director of pro scouting, and he became assistant GM following the 2011 season. He had long been considered a future GM, and he interviewed for the Angels job in 2011 before it was ultimately awarded to Dipoto. Last year he interviewed for the Padres GM position, and he was also a potential candidate for the Diamondbacks job that went to Dave Stewart, although he declined to formally interview for that position. Eppler is a native of San Diego.
Eppler, 40, is generally regarded as likely to be statistically savvy, although he also has a scouting background, and it’s difficult to tell how a GM might make decisions until he or she actually becomes a GM. “He checks all the boxes,” Brian Cashman said of Eppler last year. “He’s got the analytics side checked off, he’s got the administrative side checked off and he’s got the scouting side checked off. He’s got the leadership side checked off because he’s a great communicator.”
Eppler will inherit a situation in Los Angeles that is in some ways envious and some ways not. Tension between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia led to Dipoto’s departure, and the fact that Scioscia remained while Dipoto left suggests that Eppler will have to find a way to work with Scioscia, regardless of any differences that might arise. Owner Arte Moreno has a reputation for being heavily involved with baseball decisions. Also, the Angels don’t have a particularly strong farm system.
On the other hand, he Angels won 85 games this season and have a relatively strong talent base led by one of the one or two best players in baseball in Mike Trout. That’s a rare starting point for an incoming GM. Eppler will also have access to a big budget, as Moreno has rarely been shy about spending on top-tier free agents.