Williams expects to have busy GM Meetings
CINCINNATI -- Dick Williams may have formally been promoted to general manager of the Reds on Wednesday, but his first foray among his 29 other GM peers will begin Monday at the General Managers Meetings.
Williams and Walt Jocketty, who remains as president of baseball operations, will arrive in Florida on Sunday for the annual meetings. They expect to be very busy.
"Walt and I and a couple of other guys are headed down to Boca Raton to spend four days, we won't get any sun, but we'll be talking baseball with the 29 other teams," Williams said. "That's really the unofficial, official kickoff to the offseason. Things are starting to brew. People are starting to call. The World Series is over so the phone is ringing."
Following back-to-back losing seasons, the Reds are trying to expedite a rebuild to get back into contention. Pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake were traded in July and outfielder Marlon Byrd was dealt in August. All the deals brought in prospects.
Still likely to attract interest this winter are multiple veterans such as closer Aroldis Chapman and right fielder Jay Bruce. Both were heavily involved in Trade Deadline rumors during the summer. The payroll-locked Reds are looking to shed some salaries while likely bringing in young Major League ready talent that can be under club control.
Jocketty has spent 21 years as a GM with the Reds and Cardinals, including the past eight seasons in Cincinnati. Williams has 10 years in the baseball operations side of the organization following a career in the business world, but just one year as assistant GM.
Following the 2016 season of working closely with Williams, Jocketty is expected to step aside into more of an advisory role. Jocketty still wants to stay involved, but admitted there were "too many headaches" in the day-to-day tasks of being a GM.
As a practical matter for this offseason, who is the point person for the club when it comes to speaking with other clubs and agents?
"I'll say this -- Walt is staying in charge of this department this year, he's the president of baseball operations," Williams said. "When you get to the GM Meetings or the Winter Meetings, there's so many points of contact. So many of us have been in the game so long now and we've developed relationships with other people. People are getting promoted every week now, it's hard to keep up. As you can imagine, conversations can start at any level, whether it's assistant GM or GM or president of baseball ops, it's really evolved past the one point of contact."
It would seem there is a fine line to walk this season for Williams, but he did not view it that way.
"Honestly, I feel lucky that it's working out this way, that I get the opportunity to work with Walt for a year having a better understanding of what's ahead of me and the timing," Williams said. "It must be awfully difficult to walk in one day and boom -- one guy is out and another guy is in. I think we're very fortunate that Bob [Castellini, the Reds' CEO] is making sure we have plenty of transition time."
That transition begins immediately as Williams and Jocketty try to improve the Reds' roster for the long term.
"We're going to take stock of that here as we get into the GM meetings and starting talking to other teams," Williams said. "Obviously, we weren't where we wanted to be this year. A lot of that was due to injury and we had to trade away some key pieces.
"We expect some of our guys to come back healthy and make sure that's the case. As we get into Spring Training, we'll be able to really drill down on where the holes are."