The LA Angels lost a pitiful game to the Boston Red Sox last night. However, they still had a huge win last night off the field.
Prior to the season, both the LA Angels and general manager Billy Eppler said they were comfortable with Eppler’s current contract status. The Angels had an option to keep their main man for the 2020 season. Last night, they made it official and elected to keep their GM as they move towards the most pivotal offseason of the decade for the Halos.
For the LA Angels fans who are negative towards Eppler, that is largely because of his offseason last year. Literally none of the signings worked out, and only Trevor Cahill is still with the team. That can’t be the case this offseason, or else it will be the end of Eppler’s tenure with the Angels.
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The Angels’ sights are on Gerrit Cole this offseason. We know it, you know it, the Angels know it, and Gerrit Cole surely knows his hometown team will be very interested in acquiring his talents. If there is one thing Billy Eppler can do, it is recruit players and convince them to join the Angels.
All you have to do to prove this is look at the past. The Halos were seen as long shots to land Shohei Ohtani, even after being named one of his finalists. Billy Eppler went into the team’s interview with the Japanese phenom and won him over. By the way, turns out Gerrit Cole is one of Ohtani’s biggest fans.
Another example is the Mike Trout extension. Trout had every right to decline to stay with the Angels. They had failed to build a contending team around him his entire career. However, it was the revived farm system that Billy Eppler crafted that convinced Trout of a bright future at The Big A.
The best international player since Ichiro signed? Check. The game’s best player extended? Check. A rebuilt farm system with high-profile prospects? Check.
There is one more step for Billy Eppler to put himself in the elite tier of general managers, and that is to have a successful free agency period. He hasn’t made the blockbuster move yet, and with Cole lined up this winter, he’ll have his best chance yet.
It is worth noting though, signing Cole and doing nothing else won’t be enough for the Angels to become contenders. They’ll need to sign another mid-tier starter and possibly a reliever to feel confident. An offensive catcher to pair with defensive ace Max Stassi could also be a need.
Billy Eppler is in charge for at least one more season. A successful winter, however, highlighted by Gerrit Cole, could keep him in Anaheim for a long, long time.