Angels announce Eppler as general manager

October 4th, 2015

ARLINGTON -- Billy Eppler, the Yankees executive who has long been considered a general manager in waiting, was announced as the Angels' new GM on Sunday.

Eppler was the runner-up with the Angels four years ago, when Jerry Dipoto ultimately got the job. Now he's the man replacing Dipoto, who resigned July 1 amid increased tension with longtime manager Mike Scioscia and his coaching staff. The 40-year-old Eppler signed a four-year contract with the Angels and "will oversee all aspects of the club's baseball operations and report directly to owner Arte Moreno," according to a team-issued release.

Eppler, the 12th GM in team history, will take part in a press conference from Angel Stadium at 1 p.m. PT on Monday, alongside Moreno, Scioscia and president John Carpino.

"We used a lot of time, energy and research into the decision to fill this very critical position," Moreno said in a statement. "We interviewed several quality individuals throughout the process. In the end, Billy's experience in the areas of scouting, player development and Major League operations, in addition to his organizational and communication skills, were primary reasons for our decision. He is energetic, creative and has a tremendous passion for the game. We look forward to him joining the organization and making his impact felt in short order."

Eppler was deemed the frontrunner throughout the interview process, but the Angels opted to wait until their team was eliminated from postseason contention.

A San Diego native who pitched for the University of Connecticut -- and ultimately graduated with a finance degree -- Eppler began as a scout with the Rockies from 2000-04, then spent the next decade-plus with the Yankees, going from scouting director to assistant GM. Since losing out on the Angels GM job in 2011, Eppler has served as a right-hand man for Yankees GM and senior vice president Brian Cashman.

Last year, Eppler was also the runner-up to A.J. Preller for the GM job in San Diego.

"I cannot adequately express how excited I am for the opportunity Arte Moreno and the Angels have given me," Eppler said in a statement. "The Angels are committed to championship standards. They are committed to being a perennial contender, and many of the pieces are already in place for that to occur. I look forward to a collaborative effort as we look to enhance and advance every phase of the baseball-operations department."

The Angels interviewed at least five other external candidates for GM in Josh Byrnes (Dodgers senior vice president of baseball operations), Chris Gwynn (Mariners director of player development), Ross Atkins (Indians vice president of player personnel), Tony LaCava (Blue Jays assistant GM) and Mike Hazen (then-Red Sox assistant GM).

Hazen has since been promoted to Red Sox GM under new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Byrnes, the only one of the group with prior GM experience, was said to have been given strong consideration by Moreno and Carpino, who conducted the search.

Moreno and Carpino also interviewed three internal candidates in assistant GMs Matt Klentak and Scott Servais, as well as director of pro scouting Hal Morris.

Bill Stoneman has served as the interim GM since Dipoto stepped down. Dipoto is now GM of the division-rival Mariners, and Stoneman will probably go back to an advisory role. The Angels won't bring on an additional executive to serve as president of baseball operations.

It'll just be Eppler, and he'll have his hands full in his first GM job.

He'll have to foster healthy working relationships with a hands-on owner and a strong-willed manager. He'll have to navigate through some of the organizational tension left in the wake of Dipoto's departure. And he'll have to accept the possibility he may not have the autonomy of a modern-day GM.

Scioscia can opt out of his 10-year contract at the end of this season, but once again declined to comment when asked about it after the Angels' season-ending 9-2 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Park. The 16-year manager is nonetheless expected to stay, set to make $18 million over the next three seasons.

Eppler will inherit a payroll that will have nearly $105 million tied up to five players next season (Albert Pujols, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton, who now plays for the Rangers). He'll also need to find a starting catcher and left fielder, a potential second and third baseman, and perhaps a top-of-the-rotation starter.

Along the way, Eppler must also continue to build some of the organizational depth Dipoto was beginning to accumulate before stepping down.

"There are some very tangible things that need to be done," Scioscia said after Sunday's game. "I'm looking forward to sharing our insights with whoever is in that position, because like most baseball teams, I don't think there's a manager or coaching staff that doesn't know the players better than anyone in the organization. We want to move forward."