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OC Register: Billy Eppler’s top three and bottom three moves for the Angels


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The Angels announced that Billy Eppler will not return as their general manager after five seasons that did not include a winning record.

Here are the five best and five worst moves Eppler made in his tenure with the Angels.

BEST

1) Mike Trout’s extension.

Prior to the March 2019 deal when the Angels signed Trout to a 12-year contract, the question of Trout’s long-term future had been hanging over the franchise. Trout had two years to go before free agency, and if a deal didn’t get done then, Trout was likely to be gone at the end of his contract, if not traded before. Trout said one of the main reasons he signed was he had faith in Eppler’s ability to build the Angels into a long-term winner.

2) Winning the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.

Perhaps no player in major league history has been at the center of such a recruitment process. Not only did Ohtani come from Japan with extraordinary talent and potential, but he came at time in his career when MLB rules put a cap on his bonus, so every team could afford him. No team could simply outspend the others to win the bidding. Ohtani got to pick based on what he felt was the right fit, and by all accounts the sales job Eppler did was one of the deciding factors.

3) The Andrelton Simmons trade

Erick Aybar was heading into his final year before free agency, and the Angels had no heir apparent. Shortstops in their prime are rarely available in trade, so when Simmons was out there, Eppler realized the significance of the moment and gave up the top two pitching prospects in a thin farm system to get him. Simmons was a solid contributor and two-time Gold Glove winner with the Angels. Sean Newcomb has been a middling swing man with the Atlanta Braves, and Chris Ellis has pitched just one inning in the majors.

WORST

1) Zack Cozart

In five years Eppler signed only two free agents to multiyear deals: Anthony Rendon and Zack Cozart. The three-year, $38-million deal for Cozart didn’t get the Angels much of anything. The Angels ended up sending one of their top prospects to the Giants just to get them to take the final year of Cozart’s contract, and the Giants released Cozart. To be fair, most of what happened to Cozart was because he suffered a serious shoulder injury three months into the deal, and he was never able to recover. However, he was 32 when the Angels signed him, and coming off one All-Star season in an otherwise nondescript career. He was hitting .219 with a .658 OPS before he got hurt.

2) Matt Harvey

Harvey had been one of the game’s top prospects and then one of its top young pitchers before injuries and other off-field issues derailed his career, and Eppler took a chance at a bounceback when they signed him to a one-year, $11-million deal in December 2018. Harvey pitched poorly, spent two months on the injured list, came back for a couple games, and then was released. He had a 7.09 ERA in 12 starts.

3) Trevor Cahill

The Angels signed Cahill around the same time as Harvey, although his deal was only for $9 million and he actually made it to the end of the 2019 season by working out of the bullpen in the second half. Cahill went from a 3.76 ERA in Oakland in 2018 to a 5.98 mark with the Angels in 2019.

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Those are good lists. Especially if you are focusing on results. 

Harvey and Cahill were weird to me, though.  Teheran, too.   I didn't expect much from any of them, but they were all horrible.  Cahill pitched this year how I expected him to pitch last year.    Harvey was even worse than last year.   We'll see about Teheran.... he'll get a chance somewhere else.  

You just can't predict some things. These are human beings.   The people making the decisions and the people throwing, catching, and trying to hit the baseball. 

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15 hours ago, Erstad Grit said:

Mike trout's wife is why he stayed here.  I don't give eppler any credit for that

Link?  Not that it doesn't make a certain amount of sense (distance from in-laws, lower media scrutiny), but I've never seen anything that supports that to the extent that it would make the negotiations a slam-dunk.

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On 9/27/2020 at 9:39 PM, Chuckster70 said:

Best: Simmons trade, Trout ext, Ohtani sweepstakes, Rendon signing, Bundy trade & Stassi trade. 

Worst: Cozart, Harvey, Cahill, Allen, Teheran, releasing Yates. 

Quite respectable considering some of the worst moves were impacted by injury.: Cozart, Harvey, and possibly even Teheran (the 'Rona).  Not to mention that he had to use the first three years of his tenure essentially raising the farm from the dead which made him a pauper bidding at Sotheby's in the trade market.  

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On 9/27/2020 at 11:31 PM, mymerlincat said:

I'd argue Rendon as one of the best and waiving Yates as one of the worst.

I think you have to give Arte the credit for signing Rendon and the Trout extension.Yates was waived at the end of ST so Eppler was operating on a small sample size, also this was probably Scioscia’s decision. I fault Eppler when it comes to player development and scouting. Swanson was not the right man for the job. The Angels signed more international players but they haven’t signed any difference makers from that market. There is still a lack of catching, and no pitching in the upper levels of the organization. 

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