Eppler lauds staff for tireless pursuit of Ohtani

Angels' front office got 'locked in' to land two-way star

December 12th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Shohei Ohtani chase sparked a full mobilization of the Angels' front office and led to a few sleep-deprived nights for general manager Billy Eppler, whose efforts were rewarded last week when Ohtani chose to come to Anaheim after drawing fervid interest from around the league.

Eppler said many of his lieutenants had to cut their Thanksgiving holidays short in order to help craft the Angels' written response to the questionnaire distributed by Ohtani's agency, CAA, which asked clubs to describe how the two-way phenom would fit into their organizations. On two occasions, Eppler said he stayed up until 3 or 4 in the morning texting assistant general manager Jonathan Strangio to review the final edits for the document.

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"Thank God he's an English major," Eppler said.

The Angels learned they had made it past the first round around 11:15 a.m. PT last Sunday and were told they would have the opportunity to make a two-hour presentation to Ohtani the following night at 7. Eppler said he slept only three and a half hours as he and his team scrambled to prepare their pitch.

"Nothing about this was standard," Eppler said. "My whole group locked in. Everybody was all hands on deck. They worked their tails off so that we could make this a reality."

While the Angels are willing to accommodate Ohtani's desire to become a two-way standout in the Majors, Eppler said they made no long-term guarantees regarding his future as both a right-handed pitcher and left-handed-hitting slugger.

"Right now we're going to bring him in and he's going to do both," Eppler said. "Let's just see where it goes. We don't make any promises. But he knows our position at the outset, and he knows our commitment to his development. We know he's not a finished product."

Worth noting

• The Angels would like to add a fourth outfielder to back up , and , though Eppler said his staff is still debating whether they should target a particular handedness of hitter for the opening.

They have bolstered their internal outfield depth by signing right-handed-hitting outfielder and former top prospect to a Minor League contract. Liriano, 26, has batted .220 with a .580 OPS in 150 career plate appearances in the Majors. He appeared in 21 games for the White Sox last season.