The Los Angeles Angels fired general manager Billy Eppler on Sunday, moments after the team concluded its fifth consecutive losing season.
The firing comes with one year left on Eppler’s deal. The Angels quietly extended Eppler through the 2021 season over the summer, a source confirmed to ESPN. Eppler, who finished his fifth season with the organization after joining in 2015, was on an expiring contract when the year began.
In a statement, Angels president John Carpino said: “The Angels organization would like to thank Billy for his dedication and work ethic over the last five years. We wish him and his family all the best.”
The Angels finished the shortened 2020 season with a 26-34 record, a major disappointment for a team that carried a lot of hype after the hiring of manager Joe Maddon and the signing of third baseman Anthony Rendon.
“Billy and I really, I thought, were great together,” Maddon said after the Angels ended their season with a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers. “From the moment I met him, I thought to myself, ‘This is a straight-up guy. Absolutely straight-up.’ One of the most honest people I’ve met in this industry. Great talent evaluator.”
Eppler played a lead role in recruiting Shohei Ohtani, was a big reason Mike Trout decided to spend most of his entire career with the Angels and took steps to rebuild the team’s farm system. He added high-ceiling talent such as Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh, but he consistently came up short in addressing the pitching staff.
The manager Eppler appointed in 2019, Brad Ausmus, lasted only one season.
“I’m certain he’s going to land firmly on his feet,” Maddon said. “But our friendship will endure, he and I. I really enjoyed our time together, and I told him so.”
Decorated executive Dave Dombrowski has been rumored inside and outside of baseball to be Eppler’s successor.
The Angels have made the playoffs only once since 2012, even though Trout has been arguably the game’s greatest player. The team went 80-82 in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018, Mike Scioscia’s last two years with the organization, then lost 90 games in 2019, a season marked by the sudden death of young starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.