Williams to remain with White Sox
Blue Jays denied permission to talk to executive
SAN DIEGO -- For White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, the time was just not right for Kenny Williams to explore an opportunity with the Blue Jays, who were denied permission to talk to Williams about joining their organization.
"I talked to Jerry. He just felt it was not the right time because we have White Sox work to do," said Williams, who is moving into his third season as the team's executive vice president. "I completely understand that and support that.
"As anybody would, you would want to try to flush out and see what the possibilities are for you, your life, your family and all the other things. There's a time and a place for it. Right now, Jerry felt that this wasn't the time or the place."Winter Meetings: Monday through Thursday in San Diego
The focus now, Reinsdorf said through a team spokesman, is on fielding a contending team in 2015. And Reinsdorf's position on the matter reinforces Williams status as a valued member of the White Sox front office.
"This much I know: For a lateral move, that's certainly not going to be allowed," Williams said. "There's been some feelers put out for presidency of baseball operations-type roles, but because my title is executive vice president, our structure is the same as it is on the other side of town, where you see president of baseball operations. It's just our structure, the president of baseball operations doesn't fit.
"So those are equal positions, equal titles. The CEO position as it's laid out in different organizations means different things to different people. You have to have those conversations. That's why you talk to people, and why it's a good idea that none of it gets out before you do because now you have to stand around and answer a whole lot of questions."
Williams said there is no disconnect between himself and Reinsdorf, with the two having a close relationship since the White Sox drafted Williams in the third round of the 1982 First-Year Player Draft. He also pointed out that even if the right opportunity came along, it doesn't necessarily mean he would leave the place where he has worked since November '92.
"Listen, we have a management team that I think works. And my level of optimism for this team going into next year, particularly if we can accomplish a couple of things, is sky high," Williams said. "Not to mention the fact that I've been with this organization almost all of my adult life. And I've got special relationships here. So even if that were to materialize, I think the assumption was that I would automatically pick up and leave. That's just not the case.
"This has nothing to do with my position here and certainly like I said, I'm a White Sox. I've been a White Sox for 27 years, somewhere around there, and I like my role. I still oversee every aspect of the baseball operations and take pride in that. [White Sox general manager] Rick [Hahn] and I spoke this morning about things. We work well together and he's the front guy. I like what I'm doing."
Becoming the first African-American CEO in Major League Baseball history would be a meaningful accomplishment for Williams, who put together and oversaw the White Sox World Series championship in '05 along with an American League Central title in '08. So he would at least listen to a career opportunity, even if he was happy with his job, his family situation and everything else he loves about Chicago.
He also holds a special connection to the Blue Jays, with whom he played in 1990 and '91 and learned a great deal from Cito Gaston, Galen Cisco and Pat Gillick, as a few influences he named Monday. Williams spoke of a letter received from Gillick and signed by Beeston upon his departure for Montreal, thanking him for his effort and some of the off-the-field endeavors in the local community.
It's a letter that Williams has kept all these years and illustrates his respect for Beeston. At this point, Williams believes the Blue Jays have moved on.
"There's nothing more that I would like than win another World Series in Chicago. And I may be wrong, it's a transient job that I'm in. But I would think I'd have some sort of longevity in this game," Williams said. "An opportunity like this hopefully will come down the line, may come here, who knows? That would be the best of all worlds: If that came right here in Chicago. But I'm not going to lobby for it. That would have to come from outside of my own desires."