Dick Williams was the GM of the Cincinnati Reds throughout the 2016 season. That technicality is inarguable. It was presumably on his business card, his LinkedIn profile, and would've absolutely been, like, the third thing he mentioned in his Twitter profile (if he had one). Of course, all job descriptions aren't created equal.
While Walt Jocketty had officially transitioned to being the Chief Head Assistant [insert words here] Advisor to Special Services and Operations Pertaining to Ownership, Roster, and Management, it was publicly known that the veteran string-puller would still be pulling the 2016 strings. It was an apprenticeship of sorts for Williams, I presume, though he'a already spent a pile of years being one of the team's Assitant GMs. In reality, it seems like Jocketty was telling Reds fans everywhere that there was A) going to be a major reboot of the team, and B) don't worry, me stepping down is going to be part of that reboot, too.
From that same techincal view, we can now close the books on that era of Reds labeldom, as Williams has finally been handed the job description his requisite GM title should accompany, and he spoke to the media in such capacity on Thursday. Considering the GM Meetings get going on Tuesday of next week, it's clear that there won't be a lot of down time on the job before he jumps right into a very important offseason of wheeling and dealing. Williams mentioned that the team would prioritize augmenting the bullpen, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, since it's obvious that last year's record-breaking futility there wasn't going to get a free pass heading into 2017. Williams mentioned the multi-inning roles of both Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen once both were healthy, highlighting that they now appear to be the presumptive anchors in that bullpen, but he also mentioned how that specific market may well be a hot one after similar outings from the likes of Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman this postseason drew rave reviews.
Look, Williams isn't going to be asked to make world-altering moves this offseason, something that I blurbed a bit about a few weeks back. So many of the moves needed to flush the old roster and bring in a new one have already been made, and he's now tasked with giving the new additions - and players promoted from within - a reasonable chance to show what they can do, and that's every bit as important as the role of trading current All Stars for future ones. Trading for guys like Ramon Hernandez, Mat Latos, and Scott Rolen makes big waves in some fan circles as a GM making the "right" moves to win, but identifying which Justin Turners, Yasmani Grandals, and Edwin Encarnacions may have spots in the longer term view is equally as important - especially when the rebuild is already set on that path. Rather than flipping veterans for youth, Williams' first year on the job will be defined by his ability to assess whether Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez are legit starting caliber pieces, whether Billy Hamilton is worth an extension now that he's arb-eligible, and finding out which of the young pitchers are better suited for starting roles vs. relief roles. It's not as sexy, and it's not as easy to judge him on, but it's still a set of vital tasks needed to bring this team out of the NL Central cellar.
Speaking of Suarez, Sheldon also caught up with the team's incumbent 3B to talk about his progression during the 2016 season. I think it's a pretty decent testament to the talent Nick Senzel possesses that we're watching a 25 year old 3B with a glove that can run at SS who just hit 20+ dingers as if he's playing for his future with every single move, but that's somewhat the spotlight Suarez is in at the moment.
As for Williams' remarks about prioritizing pitching as a place the team can add value this offseason, The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan identified a lengthy list of arms the team could look at this Winter. The list lacks a lot of pizzazz, but that's more an indictment of an incredibly weak free agent class than anything else. Given that there's still an outside chance that Iglesias, Lorenzen, or both get real looks as starters once more, the list includes both durable starting pitchers and veteran relievers, since obviously the Reds could still choose the road more grassy that wanted wear.
Since the World Series is over, transaction season has officially kicked off, and at least a few former Reds have been in the news as such. The Boston Red Sox declined catcher Ryan Hanigan's 2017 option, leaving the 36 year old a free agent for the first time since he signed as a free agent with the Reds back in 2002. Jay Bruce, on the other hand, had his option picked up by the New York Mets, meaning he'll be making $13 million in 2017 whether they eventually decide to shop him this Winter or not.
Speaking of transaction season, MLB Trade Rumors has a pretty well detailed outline of the times and dates when the important roster and contract decisions must be made, so bookmark that.
Finally, our Eric Roseberry has been kicking tail with his podcast On Baseball Writing, having already spoken with the likes of Buchanan, R.J. Anderson, and others. It provides great insight beyond just the words on the pages you've read from these scribes, digging into their thought processes, how they landed their gigs, and the balancing act writing honestly about people you're also in charge of interviewing on a daily basis can be. It's on iTunes, and you can listen to them here...and I wholeheartedly suggest that you do.