When LA Angels general manager Billy Eppler was hired in October of 2016 the Angels were in a state of disarray. With roster that had many holes and a farm system that was near the bottom. Eppler had his work cut out for him.
Billy Eppler had never been a general manager before he came to the LA Angels. Eppler has learned on the fly and has done many good things with the Angels roster and rebuilding the farm system. Although the on-field success has been erratic, Eppler’s vision is starting to come to fruition.
The Angels farm system went from 30th to 9th in MLB during Eppler’s tenure. The bullpen once an Achilles Heel is now one of the deepest and best in the American League. Some of Eppler’s prospects are already doing well in the majors such as Griffin Canning and Jose Suarez (although he is back in triple-A now).
In addition Eppler has made a plethora of roster moves that provided the Angels a lot of depth and versatility. Eppler has acquired all-star Justin Upton for one major pitching prospect (Grayson Long). His also got the Angels Gold Glove shortstop in Andrelton Simmons. He also acquired utility man Tommy La Stella who is on the verge of being an all-star.
Eppler is also an expert in finding hidden gems from the waiver wire that pan out on a regular basis. This year getting Brian Goodwin just before the season started was invaluable to the Angels when Upton went down with an injury. Hansel Robles and Noe Ramirez as well as J.C. Ramirez were all claimed off the waiver wire and have been part of a retooled bullpen (J.C. Ramirez may be a starter when he comes back from injury), and Felix Pena is another waiver wire claim.
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One of Eppler’s best signings was luring two-way star Shohei Ohtani to sign with the Angels before the 2018 season and you know how that story has gone. He was also intregal in re-signing Mike Trout to a “lifetime” contract to keep him in Angel uniform until 2030.
The Angels have managed to stay in the playoff race this season due to the depth that Eppler has assembled in Triple-A Salt Lake.
Eppler also has made a couple of deadline deal trades for prospects that have netted some good talent. Last season he got Ty Buttrey from Boston for Ian Kinsler. He also got Luis Rengifo, who has proven his worth since being called up this season in a trade for C.J. Cron.
One of the Angels best pitching prospect in Triple-A Patrick Sandoval was also acquired last season in a trade with Houston for Martin Maldonado. Getting something for a player you were not going to re-sign is very smart instead of letting them walk away for nothing.
Many people will not give Billy Eppler as much credit as he deserves because of the lack of major success on the field, but it takes time to build something that will last. However, success is much closer than it was in 2016 when Eppler first came to Anaheim.
So fasten your seat belt and get ready as the Angels are going on a ride to the top in the next few seasons.