- Marcus Hartman
Cincinnati Reds general manager Dick Williams stopped by the set of MLB Network during the winter meetings in Florida this week and dropped all kinds of knowledge about the club’s present and future.
He only spoke for about five minutes but covered a wide range of topics, including:
1. Jose Peraza will be the team’s shortstop in 2018.
Some have wondered if All-Star Zack Cozart might return to Cincinnati after testing the free agency waters, Williams said the Reds are “pretty committed to giving Jose a look at shortstop.”
“I’m not going to say we're not looking at other options just in case,” Williams said, “but we told him at the end of the season to prepare and come in to be our starting shortstop and I think once we let him play that position and settle in, we’re going to see a really good young player.”
2. Jesse Winker is “absolutely ready” to be a full-time major leaguer.
Despite reports of a possible trade of Billy Hamilton circulating this week, Williams sounded pretty set on having four outfielders to play three spots in 2018: Hamilton, Winker, Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler.
“It's going to be an interesting challenge – We think we have four outfielders who can contribute,” Williams said.
With two left-handed hitters (Winker and Schebler), a righty (Duvall) and a switch-hitter (Hamilton), Williams likes the matchup potential manager Bryan Price would have while giving all four players regular at-bats instead of having the same three start every day.
3. Joey Votto is fully committed to the Reds win or lose.
After Giancarlo Stanton was traded to the Yankees to avoid having to go through another Marlins rebuild, Williams was asked if the Reds All-Star first baseman had ever expressed a desire to be moved to a contender.
“He's committed to what we're doing, and he was one of the first conversations I had when I was promoted,” Williams said. “'Joey, what do you think about where we are, and what do you see your role as?' He said, 'I wouldn't have signed a long-term deal in a small market expecting to be competitive every year. I'm in it for the ups and downs. And he really is."
4. Sounds like Raisel Iglesias is not going anywhere, either.
The live-armed Cuban reliever has been the subject of trade rumors for two straight offseasons, but Williams indicated he’s part of the Reds’ long-term plans.
Rebuilding teams don’t typically worry about how good their closer is, but Williams said the Reds don’t view him as a traditional closer because he can pitch multiple innings per outing and be used various times in a game.
"He's gonna be here for when we're competitive again. We want him to be a big part of the success in the next few years."
5. Finally, while he expects the team to continue mostly flying under the radar this offseason, he hopes the team will be back in the business of acquiring major-league talent sooner than later.
"I don't think we'll be too crazy this winter,” he said. “It's all about bringing these guys along and developing them. We've been in the middle of a rebuild for a couple of years and you've got to stick to that plan.”
That doesn’t mean the club won’t be making any major moves, but Williams said he prefers to be thought of as “opportunistic” when it comes to adding talent.
As for when they might be buyers again?
"We're starting to look now. I think by next year we’ll be adding.”