Working around ownership
After years of bad signings Arte has refused to open up the checkbook to the point that just this past offseason Billy Eppler had ask Arte Moreno if he could stretch the checkbook for Cody Allen, a 30-year-old reliever who posted a 4.70 ERA a season prior to his signing.
The fact that Eppler had to ask for extra money to sign Allen to a 8.5 million dollar deal is bad all around because it answers the question as to why the Angels missed out on prime free agents like Patrick Corbin. The only way to secure prime free agents in this climate is to overspend in big ways and thats something Moreno will not do anymore.
The reason the Angels have been struggling to compete for years goes far outside of free agency as well. Before Billy Eppler came along there was virtually no international presence from the organization and the team was as far down in the cellar as you can go regarding their farm system.
Constant mis-drafts and inability to develop prospects tanked the Angels chances to compete long-term in big ways and the inability to secure prime free agents put the Angels in the worst position an organization could possibly be in. That all changed with Eppler and it changed pretty fast, as soon as he came into the system he swung a big trade for Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Maybe that trade wasn’t a big deal to him because he had no attachment to the prospects he sent off at the time, but he immediately showed the ability to make dynamic moves and that hasn’t changed.
The only difference now is his dynamic moves happen on a more subtle basis, such as the C.J Cron for the then fringe prospect and now MLB middle infielder Luis Rengifo or his waiver wire pickups of guys like Hansel Robles or Brian Goodwin.
The fact of the matter is most GMs have to learn how to work both with and around team owners, and in Epplers case he knows that he can only stretch the checkbook far enough to attain average free agent talent and to make the Angels a World Series contender it would have to be through shrewd trades, drafts, and low-cost signings.
The only reason why his “bust” signings seem so bad is because free agency is under a far less forgiving microscope than draft busts unless that draftee that busted happened to be a “future cornerstone” (which us Angel fans have plenty of past experience from).