MILWAUKEE -- Meeting with his peers and talking deals is what excites White Sox general manager Kenny Williams and in that sense the general managers’ meetings have not been a disappointment.
On the second day of the meetings in downtown Milwaukee, Williams was asked if some new trade options have emerged since he arrived in town Monday night. A smile crept across his face.
“It was productive,” Williams said of his night out Monday with a number of long-time general managers. “We had a good time. We got caught up and had a lot of laughs. We talked a little baseball, too.”
No sooner was Williams saying that when new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington confirmed from the other side of the room that Josh Reddick, his likely candidate to play right field, will have wrist surgery. The White Sox are willing to move right fielder Carlos Quentin, and the teams could end up being trade partners.
In moving guys like Quentin and possibly a pitcher like John Danks or Gavin Floyd, Williams will try to walk that fine line of starting a mini rebuilding mode while also trying to win at the same time. By not committing to either he runs the risk of neither happening.
“It’s what other clubs are willing to do, that’s the bottom line,” Williams said about potential trades. “Whether they’re willing to give a veteran major-league talent or is it minor-league talent? Is it something that will allow us to grow and grow very quickly, or is it going to take a longer time to manifest itself? That’s where we are.”
But while not saying he is shopping his players, Williams certainly sounds like he’s ready and willing to deal and get some affordable talent in return.
“We’re more open to making potential moves that take us a little younger, take us a step back and live to fight another day if we can [get] what we’ve identified the type targets you want in such a deal,” Williams said. “Whether you can get those targets or not remains to be seen. So yeah, we’re more open [to trading established talent].”
“For the last 12 years, we’ve been grinding it out, trying to put forth an effort to win a championship. It’s difficult to do that for such a long period of time – rebuild at the same time as you’re trying to compete. Fortunately we’ve had some teams that have done better than others, and there have been teams that didn’t meet our expectations."
Finding a leadoff hitter who can play left field figured to be one of Williams’ desires on the trade market, but if that doesn’t emerge he sounded more than willing to having Alejandro De Aza hit from the No. 1 hole.
“Alejandro De Aza played his tail off as far as I’m concerned. Did you watch him? He’s pretty good,” Williams said. “I don’t make the lineup out. If I was making the lineup out [De Aza] would be my leadoff hitter. But Robin Ventura makes the lineup out and I have to respect that. He will be given a suggestion though as to the Opening Day lineup.”
He wasn’t so willing to hand out roles to anybody else, though, saying all but Paul Konerko will have to earn his job. He amended that to say that a few others might be safe as well.
The point, though, is that veterans like Alex Rios in center field and even A.J. Pierzynski at catcher won’t just get their old jobs back because they showed up at spring training. Young players like De Aza, Dayan Viciedo, and Tyler Flowers will get their fair chance to earn a job.
“We are very encouraged by some of the young players and pitchers that we have as well,” Williams said. “Things aren’t as bleak as some people make them out to be.”