Williams taking reins of Reds' baseball operations

New GM heading into first offseason in charge in Cincinnati after Jocketty's exit

November 3rd, 2016
Dick Williams, who has spent 11 seasons in the Reds' front office, was elevated to general manager after last season. (AP)John Minchillo/AP

CINCINNATI -- The controls to the Reds' baseball operations are now in the hands of general manager Dick Williams, completing a plan that was a year in the making once president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty decided in October 2015 to step aside after the '16 season.

Jocketty recently moved into an advisory role for Williams and CEO Bob Castellini.

"We've put the transition in place. I was on the phone with Walt today," Williams said on Thursday. "He's still very much in the loop. He's out in Arizona watching the Fall League games. He will be with me at the GM Meetings, along with Nick [Krall] and Sam [Grossman, the assistant GMs]."

Williams, who has spent 11 seasons in the front office, was elevated to GM after last season. He spent 2016 getting comfortable in the role under Jocketty.

This offseason, Williams will be making the moves in an effort to improve the Reds.

"I'm excited for the opportunity, and I'm ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead," Williams said. "We finished this season and the second half on a positive trajectory [36-37 after the All-Star break]. I'm looking forward to continuing that positive momentum going forward and building on what we've been trying to do the last couple of years in terms of putting a foundation in place for a return to the postseason."

The GM Meetings open on Tuesday in Arizona, and free agency begins early that morning.

Last month, the Reds claimed utility player off of waivers from the Athletics, but besides further improving the bench, Cincinnati would most like to upgrade a bullpen that was one of the weakest in the Majors this past season.

"The bullpen will be interesting to see how it comes together," Williams said. "The market is going to make it challenging. There is not a ton of options available, and there are a lot of teams talking about needing bullpen help right now. We just have to be careful that we don't get swept up in a market that is overheated. We'll monitor that market and try to find value."

Creative bullpen management was in focus throughout the postseason, with managers not being afraid to go to their setup men in the middle innings and closers as early as the seventh to finish games while throwing 40-50 pitches.

It's possible that other clubs will follow suit, which could add demand to the reliever market.

"In the second half of the season, we were trying to promote the usage of [Raisel] Iglesias and [Michael] Lorenzen in that type of multi-inning role," Williams said. "It's something I feel is very important. That's the way we've wanted to build our 'pen. ... People are always looking for the market inefficiency, and if all of a sudden everybody is out chasing multi-inning guys, then you might have to look elsewhere."

The Reds have not yet settled on who will be their closer next season. Williams didn't expect anyone, including Iglesias and Lorenzen, to be promised a role entering Spring Training, but indications will be given on how to prepare for camp.

Not in the mix is the pitcher who entered 2016 as the closer -- . Optioned to Triple-A Louisville in June, Hoover was outrighted off of the 40-man roster in August and isn't likely to be re-signed.

"At this point, it's not in the plans to have him here," Williams said.