The Los Angeles Angels have fired General Manager Billy Eppler, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Eppler had one year remaining on his deal after the Angels gave him a one-year extension this past summer, notes The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya.
The Angels announced the decision on Twitter with a statement from team president John Carpino: “The Angels Organization would like to thank Billy for his dedication and work ethic over the last five years. We wish him and his family all the best.”
Owner Arte Moreno signed a 40-year-old Eppler in October of 2015 from his executive role with the Yankees to be the 12th General Manager Angels’ history. Previous GM Jerry Dipoto had resigned in July amid tension with then-manager Mike Scioscia. The Angels failed to make the playoffs over Eppler’s five-year tenure, having last made the postseason in 2014. Over those five seasons from 2016 to 2020, the Angels went 332-375 for an overall .470 winning percentage. The team’s high-water mark during Eppler’s tenure was back-to-back 80-82 seasons in 2017 and 2018.
The organization made many positive strides in Eppler’s time — namely winning the bidding for two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani and signing all-time great Mike Trout to a long-term extension. He also steadily improved the organization’s farm system after years of ranking near the bottom of the league in that regard, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange-County Register. He brought Andrelton Simmons into the organization via trade and signed MVP-caliber third baseman Anthony Rendon to a free agent deal this past winter. The Angels also succeeded with under-the-radar success stories in recent seasons with the development of players like Tommy La Stella, Brian Goodwin, and Dylan Bundy.
With Trout already on the roster and big money committed to Albert Pujols, Eppler never got a clean slate in Los Angeles and had to do his best to rebuild the team on the fly. Still, five years of Trout’s prime without a playoff appearance colors his legacy with the club. Eppler’s Achilles heel would prove to be the building of a pitching staff worthy of contention. Since Eppler took over, Angels’ pitchers have accumulated the second-lowest fWAR in the majors (Marlins are last). A 4.49 team ERA ties with the Padres for 19th best over that span, while a 4.60 FIP ties with the Royals for the 24th-best mark overall. He made a number of trades that benefited the organization, but until the Bundy deal this past winter, it’s hard to find an impactful trade that brought pitching into the organization.
Rumors in recent weeks had suggested that Eppler was perhaps on the hot seat in Anaheim, and veteran baseball operations executive Dave Dombrowski was rumored as a potential replacement for Eppler before he’d even been formally let go. The Halos may consider other options in their search, but Dombrowksi’s name will surely be heavily linked to the now-official Angels vacancy in the days and weeks to come.