NEW YORK (AP) — Billy Eppler resigned as New York Mets general manager Thursday, and a person familiar with the probe said he is under investigation by Major League Baseball.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.
The person did not disclose the nature of the probe, but the New York Post was first to report Thursday that Eppler is being investigated by MLB for improper use of the injured list.
His surprising resignation came three days after David Stearns was hired above Eppler as the Mets’ first president of baseball operations. Eppler spent the past two seasons running baseball operations for New York in his role as GM.
The Mets said they could not comment because it’s an ongoing investigation.
Eppler’s decision to step down continues an overhaul that followed a fourth-place NL East finish for a team with playoff expectations and World Series aspirations. Mets owner Steve Cohen fired manager Buck Showalter on Sunday, saying Stearns deserved to bring in his own manager.
“I wanted David to have a clean slate and that meant me stepping down,” Eppler said in a statement released by the team.
Cohen had long talked about hiring a president of baseball operations above Eppler and had said baseball operations leadership had become too large a job for one person. Eppler attended the Monday news conference at Citi Field to introduce Stearns, who discussed working in tandem with Eppler.
“Billy and I have had I think a really nice relationship going back years as competitors. Talking to each other, whether it’s about transactions or just about industry events,” said Stearns, the former Milwaukee Brewers boss who also held front-office positions in Houston and Cleveland. “I have a lot of respect for the experience he has in this game, the experience he has in New York, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
But just a few days later, Eppler is out.
“He decided it is in everyone’s best interest to fully hand over the leadership of baseball operations to David Stearns,” Cohen said in a statement.
The 48-year-old Eppler worked in scouting and player development for the Colorado Rockies from 2000-04, then joined the New York Yankees. He was director of professional scouting from 2006-11 and an assistant GM under Brian Cashman from 2012-14.
Eppler became GM of the Los Angeles Angels from 2015-20, then was fired after five losing seasons. The Mets gave him a four-year contract in November 2021 to become their fifth head of baseball operations in 13 months.
He signed ace Max Scherzer and outfielder Starling Marte among his first moves, and the Mets went 101-61 in 2022 — the second-most wins in franchise history. But after leading the NL East for all but six days, they were caught at the finish by Atlanta and then lost to the San Diego Padres in their NL Wild Card Series.
New York boosted payroll to a major league-record $355 million at the start of the 2023 season, adding pitchers Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga and José Quintana, but faded by midsummer, traded veterans and finished 75-87.
“I view the fact that there are people from multiple regimes here as a feature, not a bug. That’s a good thing for us,” Stearns said Monday. “We’ve got different perspectives. We come from different training. As long as we respect that about each other and we understand that different segments of our organization are going to view the problems we face a little bit differently, that’s a really good thing. So I’m excited about that. And I think that’s going to make us better.”
AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.
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