By David Einhorn, NYT | March 14, 2021, 1:36 p.m. ET
Hiring Billy Eppler as general manager of the New York Mets was, if not a surprise, one that relieved the organization of worrying over who would be running baseball operations.
“I think any time you’re looking to bring in a fresh mind, it’s a relief to everybody,” chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said, speaking at a Manhattan recruiting event. “We have a great partnership with Alderson, and we’re very grateful for what he’s done, and we’re moving on.”
Mr. Eppler was still an Angels executive when the Mets approached him about the position. He had done extensive scouting and scout-development work during his previous tenure in the A’s organization, and joined the Angels after becoming their GM.
The departure of the critically acclaimed Alderson was not unexpected, but his departure from the Mets — a smaller organization that had been rumoured to be ripe for change — still created some nervousness among players and other members of the Mets organization.
For example, Mr. Wilpon acknowledged he sent Mr. Eppler a text message before the news broke that there was a good chance he would be joining the Mets — because, he said, if the Angels became involved, he would have had to seek permission to do so.
Mr. Wilpon said he now has a great deal of confidence in the relationship with Mr. Alderson and Mr. Eppler. The two sides have scheduled a meeting to go over the transition, and Mr. Alderson will likely serve as “interim” GM in the interim, the COO said.
“We’re going to have a real good meeting, and we have a date to set.”
Still, the hiring of Mr. Eppler creates a long-term challenge for Mr. Wilpon and his management team, which has struggled to consistently succeed. The franchise has lost 76 or more games in each of the last four seasons, while reaching the playoffs just once since 2006, when it won the World Series.
Mr. Wilpon has acknowledged that the Mets are at a crossroads and “the time is right to take this team to another level.”
Mr. Eppler, who was most recently with the Los Angeles Angels, is likely to add a younger voice to the organization, rather than an older one like Mr. Alderson. Mr. Wilpon acknowledged that the Mets had discussed Mr. Eppler replacing Mr. Alderson, but did not elaborate on why they decided on Mr. Eppler instead.
The new general manager will likely work in concert with Mr. Alderson in evaluating free agents. Mr. Alderson drafted and developed 10 free agents over the last three seasons, he said.