Eppler gets a 4-year deal to become the general manager of Mets
New York The New York Mets have finally found a general manager, who has hired Billy Ebler in a move announced Thursday night after their long and ridiculous search.
Eppler was fired from the position of GM of the Los Angeles Angels just over a year ago after five unsuccessful seasons. But he secured the same spot with the Mets after a recruitment process that recently became a joke as it has been on for more than six weeks since the 2021 season ended.
Ebler secured a four-year contract to become the Mets’ fifth head of baseball operations in 13 months. It will be presented by the team on Friday via Zoom. With an already uncertain season underway, his return to New York marks a major step toward restoring stability to the front office structure under owner Steve Cohen and team boss Sandy Alderson.
The 46-year-old Eppler was the GM of the Angels from 2015-20, overseeing five straight losing seasons. The team went 332-376 (.469) under three coaches, with a rotating staff of supporting players around Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
Unable to provide a sufficient share, the aggressive Eppler landed some big fish in Los Angeles with the help of owner Arte Moreno’s checkbook. He lured two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani to The Angels and signed third free agent Anthony Rendon to a $245 million seven-year contract. Trout secured a deal worth $426.5 million for 12 years.
Eppler has also augmented a previously barren farm system with several prospects now affecting the big league level, including All-Star Slugger player Jared Walsh, Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell and Reid Detmers.
“One of the most honest people I have met in the industry. Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Eppler at the end of the 2020 season that has been cut short for the pandemic. “I am sure he will land hard on his feet.”
Before all that, Ebler cut his teeth as a rising star in the front office of the New York Yankees. He served as Director of Professional Scouting from 2006 to 2011, and Assistant General Manager under Brian Cashman from 2012 to 2014.
Ebler will surely have been busy from the start with the Mets, who have 11 players who became independent agents and did not stay signed. The group includes player Javi Baez and bowler Marcus Stroman. Right-hand man Michael Conforto rejected the team’s $18.4 million eligible bid on Wednesday, and bowler Noah Sendergaard left the Mets on Tuesday for a $21 million one-year contract with the Angels.
Syndergaard has also received a qualifying bid of $18.4 million from New York.
With a GM finally in place to direct the search, the Mets will also turn their attention to selecting a new manager after leaving Luis Rojas on October 4 after two losing seasons.
Rojas was named across town on Monday as the Yankees’ new third base coach.
Alderson, who turns 74 next week, has run baseball operations since placing acting GM Zach Scott on paid leave following his arrest in late August for drunk driving. He was dismissed on 1 November.
Scott was promoted to the role in January when Jared Porter was fired after less than 40 days on the job after it was revealed that he had sent sexually explicit text messages and pictures to a reporter in 2016 while working for the Chicago Cubs.
Porter and Scott were hired last season after Alderson and Cohen failed to find a head of baseball operations. The club faced a similar barrier this off-season and pivoted to GM once again.
Alderson said many candidates were unable to obtain permission from their current clubs to be interviewed for the job, while others refused because they were too comfortable on a personal or professional level.
He said he was a little surprised by the number of candidates who turned down the Mets. By and large, though, it was believed that New York itself was keeping people away.
“I don’t want to give you a timeline,” Alderson said last week at meetings of general managers in California. “We’ve really blown up what most people would say is a reasonable schedule.”
Alderson, whose son Breen is an assistant general manager for the Mets, has not ruled out the possibility of appointing a head of baseball operations over General Motors later in the season.
“Assuming we only hire one person, there will be at least a year runway for that person to demonstrate their ability and potential,” Alderson said. “I’ve said this to others in the past – this is the opportunity. That’s all you can ask for. A proven ability tends to get the reward.
“If you’re looking to get comfortable, this is probably not the place, the Mets is probably not the place for you,” he added.
Alderson joked at GM meetings that he’s interviewed several candidates for the Mets job, “Maybe half the people are here today.”
Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel also found humor in the situation, tweeting, “After much thought, I’ve decided to withdraw my name from being considered general manager of the Mets.”
Associated Press sports writers Greg Beacham and Jake Sinner contributed to this report.
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