The New York Mets' long and winding search for a new head of baseball operations finally ended Monday.
Billy Eppler, the former Los Angeles Angels general manager who previously spent more than a decade with the New York Yankees, agreed to become the Mets' GM, the team's fourth in a span of 12 months, sources confirmed to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
The Mets fired acting GM Zack Scott on Nov. 1, two months after he was arrested on charges of drunken driving. Scott was promoted to the role in January when Jared Porter was fired after fewer than 40 days on the job following revelations he sent sexually explicit text messages to a female reporter while working for the Chicago Cubs in 2016.
Porter was the replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen, the agent-turned-GM who was let go at the conclusion of his second season with the organization in November 2020, shortly after Steve Cohen was approved as the team's new owner.
Eppler, 46, spent the past two months as a co-leader of a new baseball representation business for the William Morris Endeavor agency. His hiring ends a six-week search that began with ambitious plans to hire a decorated president of baseball operations -- Theo Epstein, Billy Beane and David Stearns were among those linked to the job -- before the Mets pivoted toward a GM.
Eppler will now report to president Sandy Alderson, who said he will remain on the baseball side in the interim but could hand those duties off to a president of baseball operations who could be hired next offseason.
Speaking from the general managers meetings last week, Alderson said several candidates to fill the job were unable to get permission from their current teams to interview, while others had declined because they were too comfortable personally or professionally at their current jobs. Alderson also said he believed the biggest impediment in the club's dragging search was the spotlight created by the New York market.
That, however, shouldn't be a problem for Eppler, who has long ties to the city.
Born and raised in San Diego, Eppler began as a scout with the Colorado Rockies before joining the Yankees in a similar role in 2004. For the next 11 years, Eppler graduated from scout to scouting director to assistant GM under Brian Cashman and built a solid reputation for blending scouting with analytics, leading to several GM interviews before finally landing the job with the Angels.
During his time as Angels GM, Eppler signed Shohei Ohtani, negotiated Mike Trout's second extension, helped lure Anthony Rendon in free agency and executed major trades that landed Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons. But the Angels suffered through losing seasons in all five years under Eppler, largely because of a deficient pitching staff. The only manager Eppler hand-selected, Brad Ausmus, was fired after the team lost 90 games in 2019, a year marked by the sudden death of Tyler Skaggs.
Eppler was hired with Mike Scioscia heading into the final three years of his contract and was let go after Joe Maddon concluded his first season as the team's manager in 2020, even though his option for the following season had been picked up.
The Angels' depleted farm system made some gains under Eppler's watch, most notably with the drafting of Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh. But Eppler, like Jerry Dipoto before him, struggled to toe the line between building sustainability and winning immediately, a task he will undoubtedly take on with the Mets.
The Mets have missed the playoffs five straight years and in 18 of their past 21 seasons overall. They began the offseason with 11 free agents -- most notably Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto -- and have serious needs in the outfield and the rotation.
Eppler must address those amid the looming threat of a lockout, with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire at the start of December and no clear resolution in sight.
First, however, he must hire a new manager and fill out an entire coaching staff. Eventually, he must also address a farm system that lost several acclaimed prospects in major trades over the past three offseasons.
MLB Network first reported that Eppler and the Mets were closing in on a deal.