Mike Scioscia said last week that he will return for his 17th season as Angels manager, choosing not to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract, but it will be with several new coaches.
In his first major move since being named general manager on Oct. 5, Billy Eppler announced late Tuesday night that long-time pitching coach Mike Butcher and hitting coach Don Baylor will not return in 2016. Neither had a contract for next season.
There is no mention in the team’s release whether Scioscia, who has remained fiercely loyal to his coaches and fumed when former GM Jerry Dipoto fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher in May of 2012, approved the changes.
But in a late-night phone conversation, Eppler said Scioscia was involved in the process and on board with the moves. As for the rest of the coaching staff, Eppler said “more evaluating” will be done.
“No doubt, Mike respected the organization’s decisions," Eppler said. “Since I’ve been here, Mike and I have spent close to 14 hours on the phone. We’ve had great conversations on staff, philosophy and players, and ultimately, an organizational decision was made. Mike was part of the conversations.”
Butcher, 50, just completed his ninth season with the Angels, who had a 3.94 earned-run average this season, sixth best in the American League. The Angels, picked by man to win the AL West, finished one game out of the playoffs.
Butcher, a former big league pitcher, said in the statement that after a lengthy conversation with Eppler and team president John Carpino this past weekend, “We mutually agreed this might be a good time for a change.”
Eppler echoed Butcher’s sentiments, saying he and Butcher “had very positive, constructive conversations. He’s articulate, has passion and presence, and he’s a very good baseball mind. ... I think he’ll have an impact with another organization in another role.”
Baylor, 66, who won AL most valuable player honors with the Angels in 1979, joined the team as hitting coach in 2014. The team finished 12th in the AL in runs this season, and Baylor struggled to recover from the broken leg he suffered while catching a ceremonial first pitch before the 2014 season opener.
Eppler said he has asked Baylor to remain with the organization in an advisory role. No replacements were named in the release, but assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen is expected to be a candidate for the lead hitting coach job.
“Someone with Don’s pedigree, acumen and experience, and his ability to identify talent in hitters, can no doubt be an asset for this organization," Eppler said. “From his MVP season, subsequent induction into the Angels Hall of Fame and eventual return as hitting coach, Don will always remain synonymous with Angels baseball.”
Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna