The Angels hired Billy Eppler on October 4, 2015. We will investigate how his transaction decisions have fared thus far year-by-year in a series of four articles starting with the 2016 season and ending with the current season (2019).
We’ll focus on his trades and free agent signings, but we will not focus on waiver pickups since those are low-risk moves which don’t require much spending. Signings of players to minor league contracts will also not count because those are low-risk moves as well. The ratings of each transaction is determined based on how the player has performed on the Angels and how other players the Angels traded have performed on other teams. Let’s begin:
Part 1: The 2016 Season
November 12, 2015
The Angels traded SS Erick Aybar, LHP Sean Newcomb, RHP Sean Ellis, and cash for C Jose Briceno and SS Andrelton Simmons. The Angels won this trade. Since Aybar was traded, the Braves traded him on August 16, 2016 to the Tigers after batting only .242 with 2 home runs and 42 RBIs. In 2017, Aybar received a non-roster invitation by the San Diego Padres. He hit .234/.300/.348 for the Padres that season. Next, he signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins but decided to opt-out of his contract to become a free agent. Now he plays for the Mexican League. When the Angels signed him, everyone knew Simmons had the glove, but could he hit? Simmons is now a premium shortstop both offensively and defensively.
November 17, 2015
The Angels signed second baseman Cliff Pennington. He was signed to back up Johnny Giavotella or possibly take Giavotella’s spot. He ended up playing 58 games at second base and 17 games at third base while batting .209 and became the primary second baseman when the Angels designated Giavotella for assignment on August 20. He played for the Angels one more year and in 194 at-bats he batted .253. His bat was light, but he had adequate defense.
November 24, 2015
The Angels signed catcher Giovanny Soto. He only played in 26 games that season and hit .269 in only 78 at-bats. Carlos Perez (82 games) and Jett Bandy (68 games) did most of the catching in 2016.
December 1, 2015
The Angels signed free agent outfielder Rafael Ortega because they were desperate to fill the left field hole that Josh Hamilton left behind. Ortega appeared in 66 games as a backup outfielder and DH. He had 1 home run and 16 RBIs while batting .232/.283/.292.
December 9, 2015
The Angels signed left fielder Craig Gentry to a non-guaranteed contract. This was another signing in order to get many to compete for the starting left field position in hope that one person will come out of the group successfully. Unfortunately, he was injured most of the season due to lumbar spine strain. Gentry appeared in only 14 games, had a total of 34 at-bats, and hit only .147.
December 10, 2015
The Angels traded reliever Trevor Gott and minor league pitcher Michael Brady to the Nationals for Yunel Escobar. Gott had some trouble finding himself in Washington and got sent back down to the minors multiple times from 2016-2018. He got traded to the Giants for cash on February 13, 2019. He’s off to a good start in 2019 for the Giants and has 18 strikeouts in 18.1 innings with a 1.96 ERA in 15 games. Michael Brady last appeared for the A’s in 2017 and had a 5.68 ERA in 16 games. Yunel Escobar had a great season for the Angels in 2016. He batted .304 with 5 home runs and 39 RBIs with 28 doubles. He was the Angels everyday third baseman. He played one more season with the Angels and hit .274 with 7 home runs and 31 RBIs.
December 16, 2015
The Angels signed left fielder Daniel Nava to a 1-year/$1.375 million contract. Daniel missed a month due to a groin strain and came back on June 16, 2016. He batted .235 with 1 home run and 13 RBIs in only 45 games. He was also not the answer to the left field black hole for the Halos. He was designated for assignment on July 30. He was then traded to the Royals on August 30 for a player to be named later
January 19, 2016
The Angels signed Al Alburquerque to a 1-year-1.1 million contract. He appeared in only two games and was designated for assignment on May 21.
May 11, 2016
The Angels traded minor league pitcher Adam McCreery to the Atlanta Braves for Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin went 5-6 with a 4.68 ERA and just didn’t find much success with the Halos. He’s done better since then. He won 13 games with the Padres in 2017 and 2018 with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018. Adam McCreery is now in the Dodgers organization as a 26-year-old but is still in the minor league system.
May 20, 2016
The Angels signed Tim Lincecum to a 1-year, $2.5 million contract. Well, let’s just say that this signing was an utter disaster. Tim was batted around almost every time out. He had a 2-6 record with a 9.16 ERA. He pitched 38.1 innings and gave up a whopping 68 hits and 11 home runs. He was designated for assignment on August 6.
August 1, 2016
The Angels trade LHP Hector Santiago and minor league RHP Alan Busenitz to the Minnesota Twins for Alex Meyer, Ricky Nolasco, and cash. Hector Santiago pitched for the Twins for two seasons and went 7-14 with a 5.60 ERA in two seasons with the Twins. The White Sox signed him for one year and gave up on him as a starter and let him finish 27 games towards the end of the season. He got a couple of saves and had a 4.50 ERA. Ricky Nolasco had a surprisingly good start to his Angels career. Although he was only 4-6 in 2016, he had a 3.21 ERA.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t carry anything positive over into 2017 where he went 6-15 with a 4.92 ERA. And if that’s not bad enough, he gave up an astronomical amount of home runs (35). Alex Meyer started a total of 18 games with the Angels in both 2016 and 2017 combined. Then he tore his labrum in his shoulder causing him to miss all of the 2018 season.
August 1, 2016
The Angels traded RHP Joe Smith for minor league pitcher Jesus Castillo. Jesus Castillo, 24, is still stuck in AA Mobile and this season he is 1-4 with a 5.29 ERA. Meanwhile, Joe Smith played for the Blue Jays and Indians in 2017 (59 games) and for the Astros in 2018 (56 games). He had an ERA of 3.50 combined in both of those seasons. Grade: F (Could change if Castillo surprises the Halos in AAA).
August 31, 2016
The Angels traded RHP Fernando Salas to the New York Mets for RHP Erik Manoah. Erik Manoah is still stuck in A+ Inland Empire. In 2018, he started 25 games and had a 2-12 record with a 7.29 ERA. This year he has appeared in 8 games as a reliever and has an 11.70 ERA. It’s safe to say that he won’t be called up to the majors ever. The Angels actually brought Salas back in 2017 and had a 2.63 ERA. He appeared in 41 games with the Diamondbacks and had a 4.50 ERA last season.
Billy Eppler didn’t have a great season with transactions and that’s a major understatement. Andrelton Simmons was a great pickup and hopefully, he will continue to play alongside Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani after the 2021 season when he becomes a free agent. Yunel Escobar filled in nicely at third while he was with the Angels briefly. However, Eppler’s other moves weren’t amazing or were downright disastrous.
Trading Hector Santiago for Nolasco was silly. Even though Santiago didn’t pitch well for the Twins, he was a good fit in Anaheim. Most Angels fans thought signing Tim Lincecum was a good risk and everyone was rooting for him, but it was embarrassing to see how poorly he struggled on the mound.
For some reason, Jhoulys Chacin looked like a minor leaguer when he played for the Halos but looked like an all-star on the Brewers last season.
The Josh Hamilton debacle really haunted the Angels in 2016 with the signings of Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, and Rafael Ortega. None of them could fill the void and the Angels kept paying Hamilton to not play for the Halos.
Featured Image: Billy Eppler/mlb.com