Eppler excited as Angels hit Winter Meetings
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Winter Meetings are here, all of the top free-agent position players remain on the board, and the Angels' greatest need, in left field, has yet to be addressed.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler has been in touch with available outfielders across all spectrums, from the priciest of free agents to the least expensive of trade targets. Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon appear to be the top targets, but trades for the likes of Brett Gardner and Jay Bruce could be fallback options, and less expensive free agents like Gerardo Parra and Ben Zobrist could eventually become more appealing.
Said Eppler: "We're touching them all."
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 8 a.m. PT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 7 a.m.
The Angels also would like to upgrade at second and third base, and could eventually seek bullpen help. They're roughly $20 million below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold, but Eppler called that mark "fluid," and parting with some of C.J. Wilson's 2016 salary could open up even more room.
The Angels have remained in contact with the representative for free-agent third baseman and former Angel David Freese.
Eppler said he's looking at options in free agency and the trade market, but free agency remains the club's most appealing option, and everything will probably hinge on what the club does in left field.
Speaking Thursday, Eppler said "things are opening up to possibly being reality rather than just ideas."
Eppler's first Winter Meetings as a GM should be an eventful one.
"I'm looking forward to it," Eppler said. "I look forward to it every year. I love them. They're great. I think they're great for the industry, I think they're great for each team, individually. I have a lot of fun with them, because let's really face it, I'm getting an opportunity to speak about baseball probably 18 hours a day with our brain trust and with other clubs. That's fun. How can you not want to do that?"