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GM Williams wants to see 'step forward' in '18

MLB.com @m_sheldon

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Reds first baseman Joey Votto arrived to Spring Training on Sunday underscoring his desire for the team to get better and start winning again, general manager Dick Williams was both paying attention and agreeing.

"Joey came out and said, 'I'm going to do my part to improve.' We all have to look in the mirror," Williams said on Tuesday at the Cactus League media day session for managers and general managers. "If Joey is going to say that about himself, then I know there are a lot of guys in that clubhouse have to want to get better. If Joey feels he does, then the rest of us have to feel like that."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Reds first baseman Joey Votto arrived to Spring Training on Sunday underscoring his desire for the team to get better and start winning again, general manager Dick Williams was both paying attention and agreeing.

"Joey came out and said, 'I'm going to do my part to improve.' We all have to look in the mirror," Williams said on Tuesday at the Cactus League media day session for managers and general managers. "If Joey is going to say that about himself, then I know there are a lot of guys in that clubhouse have to want to get better. If Joey feels he does, then the rest of us have to feel like that."

Cincinnati finished 68-94 in each of the past two seasons, lost 98 games in 2015 and hasn't reached the postseason since 2013.

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The rebuilding program began midway through the '14 season, but Williams and the club is ready to see it turn the corner and be able to chart real progress. How that is measured won't be in just wins and losses.

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"Tying it to the win total, there are too many variables involved there," Williams said. "But we want to see a significant step forward. I want to see individual performance and team performance get better."

Despite the last-place finish in the National League Central, the Reds made smaller moves in the offseason. Relievers Jared Hughes and David Hernandez were the only two players they signed to big league contracts. Williams chose to stay the course with the rotation and is counting on healthy years from veterans like Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani while expecting maturation and improvement from several of the younger pitchers.

In contrast, the division-rival Brewers accelerated their rebuild after a surprise 86-win 2017 season. After it finished one game out of a NL Wild Card spot, Milwaukee went all-in this offseason and upgraded its lineup and outfield with the signing of free agent Lorenzo Cain and trading four prospects to the Marlins for Christian Yelich.

"I absolutely think we will expand our payroll and investment in the team in the coming years," Williams said. "That may be to keep the current team together or maybe to bring people in from outside.

"I do think we are getting close to that point where we'll make more significant additions from the outside."

Video: Reds open camp with staff improvements on deck

Besides adding Hughes and Hernandez, the other offseason need for a backup shortstop was filled when free-agent infielder Cliff Pennington was signed Thursday to a Minor League deal.

Although the Reds looked at Tim Lincecum's pitching showcase last week and will touch base with his people, it seemed unlikely more acquisitions would be made during camp.

"We'll keep our eyes open. We're always opportunistic," Williams said. "I do feel like we've got a team we can break camp with."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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