The writing had been on the wall here for a while, but on Thursday, the Mets finally made it official: GM Billy Eppler has resigned, per a statement from the team.
NEWS: Billy Eppler has resigned as Mets GM, the team announced.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) October 5, 2023
“We accepted Billy’s resignation today as he decided it is in everyone’s best interest to fully hand over the leadership of Baseball Operations to David Stearns,” Mets owner Steve Cohen said in a statement, adding “on behalf of the Mets organization, we wish him all the best”.
“I wanted David to have a clean slate and that meant me stepping down,” Eppler said. “I hope for nothing but the best for the entire Mets organization.”
If there’s any surprise here, it’s only that this move didn’t happen sooner. Cohen bringing Stearns aboard back in September — the culmination of a years-long pursuit of the former top Brewers executive — as New York’s new head baseball man left an awkward demotion for Eppler, who ran the Angels from 2015 to 2020 before coming to the Mets in November of 2021. Stearns was always going to want to fill out his staff with his own people, and this is cleaner than a public firing; Buck Showalter pulled the same move on the last day of the regular season.
Stearns leaves a mixed legacy behind him. In his three years at the helm, the Mets made quite a splash, landing big names like Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Francisco Lindor and winning 101 games in 2022. But that season ended with a Wild Card implosion, and despite a massive spending spree over the winter — landing the likes of Verlander, Kodai Senga and very nearly Carlos Correa — New York was among the most disappointing teams in the league this season.
Just how much blame Eppler shoulders for that failure is up for debate; Cohen certainly had a say in personnel decisions, and the signings of Scherzer, Verlander and Marte — as well as trading for Lindor — were cheered pretty uniformly at the time. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in 2023, though, with an aging roster thinned out by injury and collapsing under its own weight. It’s worth noting that Eppler did pretty well with the trade-deadline teardown, landing a nice haul of prospects while dealing away Scherzer, Verlander, Mark Canha, Tommy Pham and David Robertson. Those trades have left Stearns a solid foundation upon which to build, while it remains to be seen whether Eppler will be able to land another top job after flaming out in two high-profile roles.