Long hours, sleepless nights helped Angels win Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — When Shohei Ohtani decided to sign with the Angels, it was a win-win for Billy Eppler.Not only did the Angels’ general manager essentially win the lottery by getting the Japanese two-way star, but the resolution of the process meant Eppler could finally get some sleep.On the first day of the Winter Meetings on Monday, Eppler gave further detail into the courting that landed Ohtani, including 4 a.m texts to his staff and shortened vacations.The process of wooing Ohtani began in earnest when his agent requested that clubs put together presentations detailing why Ohtani should pick them. Eppler said producing that presentation, and the accompanying video, was such an all-encompassing project that he had members of the front office, some of whom had traveled across the country, interrupt their Thanksgiving vacations to work on it. In the end, whatever the Angels did worked. Ohtani picked them because of the connection he made with Eppler and the rest of the group who met with him.“I love my guys,” Eppler said. “They worked their tails off so we can make this a reality.”The process was also unique because money wasn’t a factor. The financial packages teams could offer were limited by international spending pool rules. That also means that teams were expressly prohibited from making any promises of compensation beyond that, or trying to circumvent the rules in any way.Just last month, Major League Baseball banned former Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella for life and granted free agency to 12 of their prospects after the Braves violated international signing rules.While there would be natural scrutiny over the Ohtani recruiting process, Eppler said it never became an issue because money wasn’t discussed. He is not expecting any sort of audit of the process.“There was never a forum for that to even get opened up,” he said. “All of the talk centered around the development and how (we’re) going to use him. It never went anywhere else, which was comfortable.”Eppler also said the Angels never made any guarantees about how he would be used, as a pitcher or hitter, in the long-term.“I think (Ohtani) felt he was always going to empowered in the discussion,” Eppler said. “Right now we’re going to bring him and he’s going to do both, and let’s just see where it goes. We didn’t make any promises, but he knows our position at the outset, and he knows our commitment to his development. We know he’s not a finished product.”center_img “My whole group locked in,” he said. “It was all hands on deck.”Toward the end, he said he was sending late-night texts to assistant GM Jonathan Strangio, who was providing some final edits.“It was 3 or 4 in the morning and we were still working,” Eppler said. “I would imagine that was true of a lot of clubs.”Eppler got word about 11:15 a.m. on Dec. 3 that the Angels were one of the seven teams that made the first cut, earning the right to come in and have a face-to-face meeting with Ohtani. That meeting was set for 7 p.m. the next day, resulting in another long night of preparation.“Three and a half hours of sleep,” Eppler said.last_img

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