Billy Eppler Resignation Troubling For Mets
When David Stearns was hired, there was some expectation Billy Eppler might stay on as the GM. After all, with the hiring of a POBO, Eppler had effectively been demoted. However, in the immediate wake of Stearns’ hiring, it did seem like Eppler might stay on in his current role.
There was the endorsement of Steve Cohen. We also saw the Mets acted swiftly in firing Buck Showalter. This didn’t mean Eppler was completely safe, but with each passing day, it seemed as if his chances of remaining were growing stronger.
Well, Eppler did in fact resign but not for the reasons we thought he might. As it turns out, Eppler would resign as the Mets were being investigated for their alleged improper use of the injured list.
Eppler resigning is troubling for a few reasons. First and foremost, it does seem like the Mets are being targeted for something that has long been a practice in Major League Baseball. To that end, former Atlanta Braves catcher AJ Pierzynski described what happened when the Braves approached him about it in 2019. Notably, those officials are still in place with the Braves.
To some degree, this is just what is going to happen to the Mets. Steve Cohen is a high profile target in the largest media market in the world, and he spends more than anyone. Whereas we saw the Wilpons propped up by MLB, we are going to see Cohen’s Mets more scrutinized.
That’s just a fact of life. While troublesome, that’s not the biggest issue presented by Eppler’s resignation. The biggest trouble is how it impacts the Mets offseason.
Eppler has a good relationship with Shohei Ohtani, and that could’ve been a factor with the Mets ability to recruit him away from the west coast. The Mets chances of getting Ohtani has now taken a hit. Just how big remains to be seen.
Expounding further, one of Eppler’s strengths was his connections to Japan. It was one of the reasons why the Mets were able to land Kodai Senga, who just had a phenomenal rookie year for the Mets. We know part of the Mets plan this offseason was to go back to Japan to sign ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Like with Ohtani, we don’t know how much the Mets chances of signing Yamamoto were just impacted. The same goes for any Japanese player who would be looking to come to the majors over the next few seasons.
In some ways, this was the way the Stearns/Eppler relationship was going to work. Stearns could bring his knowledge from running the Milwaukee Brewers and combine that with Eppler’s deep connections in the industry and other countries. That combination should have made the Mets the most formidable force in all of baseball.
Now, the Mets are not able to proceed with that plan, and they just lost Tommy Tanous to the Tornoto Blue Jays. Who knows if the Mets could have kept him on if he was promoted to Eppler’s role.
That’s the problem. The Mets could have been much better poised for this offseason and beyond. Instead, they are going back to the drawing board on some things while hoping their inroads to Japanese players withstand Eppler’s resignation. In the end, that, and not the investigation, is what is deeply troubling for the Mets.