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Williams surprised by slow pace of offseason

Reds GM optimistic about direction team is headed in 2018
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The Reds normally don't make a lot of significant offseason transaction news before the holidays, and this year has been no different. But it's also been largely quiet around Major League Baseball also. That has Reds general manager Dick Williams a little surprised.

"I've given up on trying to predict the pace of offseason activity," Williams said Friday afternoon during Redsfest. "It's been quieter than the last few offseasons so far. I guess it's due to [Shohei] Ohtani and [Giancarlo] Stanton. But it always seems like there are big guys out there. I don't why it would have such an effect this year.

CINCINNATI -- The Reds normally don't make a lot of significant offseason transaction news before the holidays, and this year has been no different. But it's also been largely quiet around Major League Baseball also. That has Reds general manager Dick Williams a little surprised.

"I've given up on trying to predict the pace of offseason activity," Williams said Friday afternoon during Redsfest. "It's been quieter than the last few offseasons so far. I guess it's due to [Shohei] Ohtani and [Giancarlo] Stanton. But it always seems like there are big guys out there. I don't why it would have such an effect this year.

"I can just say, for us, it's been quieter."

Williams has no intention of trading for Stanton, the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player, as the Marlins prepare for a massive rebuild. But Ohtani is definitely on the club's radar. On Friday, Major League Baseball, the Players Association and Nippon Professional Baseball reached an accord for a posting system to bring Japanese players to MLB.

Reds trio claim club awards

In October, Williams first signaled the Reds' interest in Ohtani by going to Japan to watch him play his final game of the season. That intention was underscored again this week as the Reds prepared recruiting material and information for Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo. But Williams felt those efforts haven't delayed the club's other offseason work.

"We're open for business. We kind of divide and conquer," Williams said. "We've got some people spending a lot of time making sure we're on top of the process with [Ohtani]. It has not affected our ability to react to other stuff. We've been engaged in free-agent discussions. We're starting conversations with our own guys about arbitration and extensions. Normal business."

Last winter, the Reds didn't sign any big league free agents until January when starting pitcher Scott Feldman and reliever Drew Storen inked one-year contracts.

As Williams spent time at Redsfest doing interviews and interacting with fans, he felt he was in better position to sell his team's product to the public.

"I'm very optimistic that we're going to see improvement this year," Williams said. "Last year -- if not for those three injuries [to veteran pitchers Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Homer Bailey] -- we would have seen steps forward with the record. This year, we'll be in an even better position to have some stability and show some improvement.

Prospect Greene a hit at Redsfest

"I think I'm getting some pretty good feedback. Now with social media, I feel like I get a feel for the pulse. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on our drafts, the signings on the international market, the trades we did, the waivers claims. A lot of those moves have paid off. We feel like we're seeing positive momentum. The second half of the year, the performance of the pitchers gave us a boost."

Imagine the feedback Williams would get if he was successful in signing Ohtani.

"If we end up getting him, we'll have another Redsfest," joked Williams. "We've put a lot of thought and effort into this project."

One player non-tendered

At the Friday 8 p.m. ET deadline to offer contract 2018 contracts to all of their unsigned players on the 40-man roster, the Reds did not tender a deal to left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett. Cincinnati just claimed Crockett off of waivers from Cleveland on Monday.

Crockett's quick departure put the Reds' 40-man roster at 39 players.

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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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