The Reds restructured their front office Wednesday. According to an official announcement from the club, assistant general manager Dick Williams has been promoted to general manager. Former general manager Walt Jocketty will remain as the president of baseball operations.
“Eight seasons ago we trusted Walt to provide this organization with leadership, and he produced championship-caliber teams,” said tea president and CEO Bob Castellini in a statement. “Walt reset the expectations and culture of this franchise. He and his staff have been responsible for our return to the postseason in recent years and I know Dick has the qualities and ability to continue that tradition of success in the future.”
Many teams are adopting the president of baseball operations/general manager power structure, which became in vogue after Theo Epstein took over as president of baseball operations with the Cubs. In most cases the president of baseball operations calls the shots and the general manager is almost like an assistant.
The press release says Jocketty will “continue to oversee the department.” While speaking with reporters Wednesday, Jocketty confirmed this coming season will be his last making calls. He will then transition to an advisor role.
#Reds Jocketty said this year is his last year making the calls, will be an advisor after this year
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) November 4, 2015
Based on that, it sounds as though there will be tangible change to the team’s power structure in the coming months. This is not a simple change of titles and pay grades.
“As is the case with any business, it’s critical to have a succession plan in place,” said Jocketty in a statement. “Dick has been here for 10 years, he’s learned the business, and we are confident he is ready to take on the GM responsibilities.”
Williams, 44, was promoted to vice president and assistant general manager last November. He joined the organization in 2005 and has previously held the titles of director of baseball business operations and vice president of baseball operations.
“I am very grateful for and humbled by this opportunity that Bob and Walt have given me,” said Williams. “I believe my promotion is a reflection on the entire team that works behind the scenes to support our efforts. Walt has been a great resource to me and I look forward to our continued collaboration.”
Jocketty, 64, joined the Reds early in 2008 and was named president of baseball operations and general manager later that year. He’s been working in front offices since 1980, when he joined the Athletics as a scout. Jocketty served as general manager of the Cardinals from 1994-2007.
Under Jocketty, the Reds have gone 648-647 with three two NL Central titles (2010, 2012) and a third postseason appearance as a Wild Card team (2013). Cincinnati won 90-plus games in each of those three seasons, including 97 wins in 2012. They did not advance beyond the NLDS, however.
The Reds have gradually increased their payroll from $74.1 million in 2008, Jocketty’s first season, to $115.4 million in 2015. The club has a relatively small television contract and will never be able to spend huge on free agents, especially while Joey Votto making roughly $25 million per year until 2023.
This past season the Reds went 64-98 and finished in last place in the NL Central. Williams is going to have his hands full going forward. The Reds are stuck in a very tough division with the powerhouse Cardinals, the contending Pirates, and up-and-coming Cubs.
“As a small market team, we will always continue to look for ways to innovate,” said Castellini. “As we have done in recent years, the Reds will continue to work harder and smarter to make up for our relatively limited resources.”