NEW YORK -- The Mets introduced general manager Billy Eppler to media on Friday afternoon, and he is already working hard trying to improve a team that finished under .500 the past two seasons.
“It’s a relief that I really feel good about [the Eppler hire], and just based on our conversations, I think … he is going to be an easy person to work with,” said team owner Steve Cohen. “I really look forward to the whole team getting going here and filling our needs.”
Eppler has plenty of experience in the front office. He served as the Angels’ general manager from 2015-20 and worked for the Yankees in a variety of roles from 2004-15, rising to assistant general manager, before joining the Angels on Oct. 4, 2015.
Although Eppler was out of the game for almost a year, he has kept in touch with agents and opposing general managers. In fact, Eppler said he is talking to agents and trying to sign free agents before the current CBA is set to expire on Dec.1.
Eppler is dealing with a payroll that is currently $185 million and will end up being even higher. The Mets don’t have much depth in the farm system, but Eppler hasn’t ruled out making trades, either.
For now, Eppler will report to team president Sandy Alderson. Eppler may get full autonomy within a year, according to Alderson. Eppler has a year -- at least -- to grow to the point where the Mets may not add an additional person to work above him. When the offseason started, the Mets were also looking for a leader in baseball operations.
“We will have a year of experience, and Steve [Cohen] and I will take a look at that at the end of season and Steve will make a decision on the direction he wants to go,” Alderson said. “Billy has lots of opportunity to establish himself, to grow and have an impact on that decision a year from now.”
Eppler, 46, also has to hire a manager and a coaching staff. The process will not be done overnight. The only coach left from former manager Luis Rojas' staff is pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Eppler expects the new manager and coaching staff to change the culture in the locker room and on the field. Eppler also wants the players to speak their minds and he promises there will not be any repercussions if they do such a thing.
“I would love to find somebody that would check every single box, somebody that is great in all areas,” Eppler said. “I want to sit down with the senior ops group, then sit down with Steve and Sandy and collectively talk about what kind of criteria we think might be important for the next manager of the Mets. That’s a process we are going to start this afternoon.”
Eppler is planning to connect with the senior operations group and he wants to hear what it has to say about how to make the team better.
“We are going to kick it in high gear as soon as we wrap up [the press conference today],” Eppler said. “It’s evident we are going to have some resources behind us. I don’t think anything eliminates itself in the outset here.
“I look at the roster and want to address the pitching. We recently had a player sign somewhere else in Noah [Syndergaard]. ... We are going to entertain things in the outfield. … and infield. We are going to be aggressive and we are going to attack the pitching, the infield and the outfield -- kind of all of the above.”