LA Angels GM Billy Eppler the master of small moves that pay off big.

Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

You would think coming from a big market club such as the Yankees, LA Angels general manager Billy Eppler would have a hard time working under a somewhat tighter budget here in Anaheim.  Eppler has shown that he is up to the challenge.

This past two off-seasons since Eppler has taken over, he has had the unenviable task of trying to retool the LA Angels roster while not being given much of a budget to work with.  The reason for this is that the previous regime of Jerry DiPoto and Tony Reagins squande

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e the 2011 season.  Wells was owed close to 90 million dollars over the next four season of which he only spent two of those four seasons in Anaheim, neither of which were very good.

DiPoto then got into the act after taking over for Reagins in 2012 by signing C.J. Wilson to a 5-year 90 million dollar deal.  The deal looked pretty good in the first two seasons as Wilson went 30-17 with a 3.60 ERA.  However the last three years were not very good as Wilson went 21-18 with a 4.24 ERA and last season he got paid 18 million to pitch four innings in an exhibition game.

The final blow was the much publicized signing of Josh Hamilton for 125 million dollars over five years which the Angels have one more year to pay on in 2017 at 26.4 million dollars.  So one might understand Angels owner Arte Moreno being a little tighter on the purse strings.

With that all said, Eppler inherited a mess when took over as the general manager in October of 2015.  The Angels budget to seek new players was limited,, and trades were very hard to come by due to the fact that the Angels had one of the worst farm systems in baseball.

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Eppler did what he could in the off-season last year making a few shrewd moves by getting Yunel Escobar for basically next to nothing.  Escobar flourished in Anaheim filling both the third base hole and also the lead-off spot as well.  Then Eppler made a bold move trading top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb to Atlanta for defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons.

During the season Eppler also made a big deal at the trade deadline.  Eppler sent left-handed pitcher Hector Santiago to Minnesota and in return got veteran Ricky Nolasco and pitching prospect Alex Meyer.  Nolasco pitched well down the stretch and Meyer showed tremendous promise, whereas Santiago struggled.  In addition Santiago will be a free agent after this season so the Angels got something for him before he left after this season.

However, it was the smaller moves that caught my eye picking up players like J.C. Ramirez, Deolis Guerra, Jefry Marte, and Andrew Bailey either off the waiver wire, rule 5 draft, or through small trades.  These players all played major roles with the team in 2016 and will be key players in 2017.

So what about this off-season for Eppler.  Going in the Angels needed an upgrade at second base, a starting left fielder, and also an upgrade to the catcher’s spot.  Bullpen and starting pitching also needed some revamping.

FIrst Eppler orchestrated a deal for Cameron Maybin with Detroit giving up only a once promising pitching prospect that has yet to pan out for him.  Eppler then sisgned free agent swing man Jesse Chavez who will battle for the 5th rotation spot or become a bullpen long man.

The Angels also re-signed Andrew Bailey to help out a bullpen that struggled in 2016.  Eppler also traded for second baseman Danny Espinosa.

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Eppler’s more recent moves were acquiring catcher Martin Maldanado for Jett Bandy.  He also signed utility outfielder Ben Revere and corner infielder Luis Valbuena.

Then just this morning he signed pitcher veteran pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league deal.  Norris is a veteran right-hander who has had some very good years despite inconsistencies. Norris has 62 career wins with an ERA of 4.51. His best year was with Houston in 2014 where he wenr 15-8 with a 3.64 ERA.  Norris will also compete for the 5th spot in the rotation in 2017.

Some of these moves may not seem like much, but as we saw last year they paid big dividends last season.  It is a crap shoot when you are taking other team’s left overs.  However most all of these moves were cost-effective.  If Eppler can get a least a couple to pan out then Eppler will have done his job once again as the 2017 version looks much stronger than the 2016 roster.

Next: Veteran pitcher signs minor league deal

Take a bow Mr. Eppler for a job well done!!!/