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New York Mets announce Billy Eppler as new GM on 4-year contract

The New York Mets finally found a general manager, hiring Billy Eppler in a move revealed Thursday night following their long and ridiculed search.

Eppler was fired as GM of the Los Angeles Angels a little more than a year ago after five unsuccessful seasons. But he landed the same position with the Mets after a recruiting process that became the butt of jokes while dragging on for more than six weeks since the 2021 season ended.

Eppler gets a four-year contract to become the 16th general manager in Mets history and their fifth head of baseball operations in 13 tumultuous months. He will be introduced by the team Friday via Zoom.

With an uncertain offseason already underway, his return to New York marks a major step toward restoring stability in the front-office structure under owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson.

“I’m so thankful to Steve and Sandy for what I consider an opportunity of a lifetime,” Eppler said in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do and will systematically begin to work towards our goal of building a perennial winner.”

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The 46-year-old Eppler was GM of the Angels from 2015 to 2020, overseeing five consecutive losing seasons.

The team went 332-376 (.469) under three managers, with a rotating cast of supporting players around Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

Unable to provide enough pitching, an aggressive Eppler did land some big fish for Los Angeles with the help of owner Arte Moreno’s checkbook. He lured two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani to the Angels and signed free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon to a $245 million, seven-year contract. Trout got a $426.5 million, 12-year deal.

“Billy has the experience, character and respect of the baseball community that will allow him to attract the players and front office talent to lead the Mets forward,” Cohen stated. “He is a leader who has worked in two of baseball’s biggest markets and his talents and personality will move us closer to my goal of sustained success.”

Although the Angels didn’t win much under Eppler, he boosted a previously barren farm system with several prospects now making an impact on the big league level, including All-Star slugger Jared Walsh, Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell and Reid Detmers.

“One of the most honest people I’ve met in this industry. Great talent evaluator,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Eppler at the end of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. “I’m certain he’s going to land firmly on his feet.”

Two months ago, Eppler joined WME Sports as part of their baseball representation.

“Over the past two decades, Billy has been a scout and an assistant GM,” Alderon said. “He’s also more than familiar with the New York market. This uniquely qualifies him to lead our efforts going forward. He’s smart, he hustles and has a keen eye for identifying talent. He’s going to make us better. I am really pleased that we have someone of his caliber leading the Mets.”

Eppler graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1998 with a finance degree and worked in scouting and player development for the Colorado Rockies from 2000 to 2004. After that he joined the New York Yankees and became a rising star in their front office.

He was director of professional scouting from 2006 to 2011 and an assistant GM under Brian Cashman from 2012 to 2014.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers reward DC Todd Bowles with new three-year deal

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are giving Todd Bowles a new three-year deal that keeps him as the NFL’s highest-paid defensive coordinator, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bowles had one year left on his current deal, but this contract replaces that and doesn’t preclude him from taking another head-coaching job.

In January, Bowles interviewed for head-coaching positions with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. He was also booked to interview with the Detroit Lions but canceled the interview upon learning the Lions “had their mind made up” about Dan Campbell.

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He was the head coach of the New York Jets for four campaigns, from 2015 to 2018, before joining Bruce Arians’ staff with the Buccaneers in 2019.

Bowles, 57, has a long history with Arians, having also served as the defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals on Arians’ staffs in 2013 and 2014.

Their connection goes back to Bowles playing defensive back for Arians at Temple in the mid-1980s.

“I think it starts with individual teaching,” Arians said of Bowles. “How do they study film? He’ll bring them in at 5:30 in the morning individually, or maybe two or three, to teach them how to watch film. His expertise in defense is outstanding. He knows everything, he’s seen everything, he’s done everything.

“So the X-and-O part, that’s probably the easier part for him. It’s fitting all the pieces together on guys. What can this guy do, what can that guy do? Where can I create mismatches? Where can I get a guy on the easiest guy to beat on the offensive line? Breaking down protections and things like that. He does just a fantastic job of it.”

“He’s the type of defensive coordinator I would run through a brick wall for,” defensive lineman Will Gholston said.

“If he said, ‘Hey, if you hit it at this angle, it’s going to fall down,’ I wouldn’t second-guess it. He’s always right.”

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