It turns out Joe Maddon is not the only candidate the Angels intend to consider for their managerial opening.
General manager Billy Eppler said in a conference call Tuesday the Angels will begin a wider search to find the replacement for Brad Ausmus, who was fired Monday after one year at the helm of a team that has not made the playoffs since 2014.
“We have a hiring process to go through, so I think it’s premature to say anything contrary to that,” Eppler said. “We’re gonna collect names this afternoon, and particularly plan on sitting down with a number of candidates. I would not handicap it any other way at this moment in time.”
Eppler said he had not yet created a list of candidates to present to owner Arte Moreno or president John Carpino. He planned to do that later Tuesday.
Maddon, who led the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years, would be a logical choice. The 65-year-old spent 31 years with the Angels before taking his first managerial post with Tampa Bay in 2006. He has a winning resume and has overseen the face lifts of the Rays and the Cubs, who parted ways with Maddon after a disappointing 84-win season.
But Eppler said Maddon’s availability, which was first hinted at last week, did not influence the Angels’ decision to fire Ausmus, whom Eppler signed to a three-year contract last October.
Ausmus’ dismissal, Eppler said, “had been deliberated on for a while.” Eppler said the decision to move on from Ausmus was made with Moreno and Carpino.
Eppler took responsibility for the failings of the Angels, who finished 72-90 and posted the third-highest earned-run average (5.12) in franchise history. Eppler’s short-term free-agent acquisitions “did not produce to their forecasts,” a reality that became evident early in the season. By June, closer Cody Allen had been demoted from his role, former New York Mets ace Matt Harvey had posted a 7.50 ERA in 10 starts, and fellow starter Trevor Cahill was being transitioned to the bullpen. Of the three, only Cahill remained with the Angels all season. He was the only Angels pitcher to surpass the 100-inning mark.
Eppler also signed catcher Jonathan Lucroy and first baseman Justin Bour to one-year contracts. Lucroy landed with the Cubs after being designated for assignment in August. Bour spent most of his season playing at triple-A while 39-year-old Albert Pujols, who turned in his most productive season since 2016, played first base in 98 games.
The season hit a low point when pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room July 1. The Angels won 12 of the 18 games following Skaggs’ death to surge into wild-card contention, then fizzled out. They completed the season fourth in the division after an 18-40 stretch.
Two others hired by Eppler were fired Tuesday — pitching coach Doug White and bench coach Josh Paul. Paul, a former Angels catcher who joined the coaching staff last year, had played for Mike Scioscia in 2004 and 2005. White was in his first year with the Angels.
The season reached a low point when pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room July 1. The Angels won 12 of 18 games following Skaggs’ death to surge into wild-card contention, then fizzled out. They completed the season in fourth place in the division after an 18-41 stretch.
“Our results this year fell short of expectations and we collectively thought it was in the best interests of the organization to go a different direction,” Eppler said.
What that direction will be remains to be seen. Eppler did not provide specifics about the Angels’ wish list for a manager. He only volunteered that experience, particularly in winning a championship, might bolster a candidate’s resume.
The Angels last year chose Ausmus out of a pool of 10 candidates. Among them were Houston Astros coach Joe Espada, Angels special assistant Eric Chavez, and 11-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop Omar Vizquel, none of whom had managed in the majors. All three remain available, as are former major league managers Joe Girardi, John Farrell and John Gibbons.