Instead of hearing about if the Chicago White Sox are in negotiations with Chase Headley or if the Jeff Samardzija rumors carry any water, first day of the Winter Meetings was about Kenny Williams.
This time, it wasn't about a Free Agent target or a possible trade that Williams was speaking to. No, it was about Williams himself as it was reported on Sunday that he came this close to leaving Chicago, and become President for the Toronto Blue Jays.
From a team perspective, this rumor could be an unhealthy distraction. Hahn is well prepared to be pestered by reporters this week in San Diego about possible moves. These conversations fit right into his wheel house; calmly curbing everyone's enthusiasm and speaking in broad terms about how the organization will consider any transaction to help make the team better. Now, he has to talk about his boss.
Here are the questions that pop into my head for Hahn:
"Did you know about the offer?"
"Did you and Kenny Williams speak about the possibility of him taking the job in Toronto?"
"How can Williams help you build a championship team when he could possibly take the job with Toronto?"
Last year, when Hahn needed to convince Jerry Reinsdorf to grant the largest contract in team history to a largely unknown power hitter from Cuba, he got aid from Kenny Williams. It was Williams who joined Marco Paddy to watch Jose Abreu in the Dominican Republic. After he fell in love, the GM inside Williams unleashed to make sure that he, and the organization, got their man. Williams helped Hahn add to the team's core and found the successor to Paul Konerko.
"We have something we're working on that Rosenthal has no idea of that's going to make us more exciting to the fans and get a player that fans are going to gravitate to."
Funny, it was Ken Rosenthal who broke the news that Williams to Toronto was a serious possibility. While in San Diego this week, instead of speaking to the Samardzija rumors, or if the White Sox are the mystery team for certain Free Agents, both Williams and Hahn have to quiet the chatter before it becomes a distraction.
Shifting from the team perspective, to Williams view point. Why would he consider taking the President/CEO role with the Toronto Blue Jays? Simple, a lot more money and a better title.
This offseason, Andrew Friedman went from General Manager of the Tampa Rays to President of the Los Angeles Dodgers. His new contract? 5 years, $35 million. Besides the money and title, Friedman has the power to structure the Dodgers as he sees fit. Just like Theo Epstein for the Chicago Cubs, being President is more than building a team. It's about building the entire organization and handling the day to day business. Next step up from being President of a ball club is becoming an Owner.
Which is what Williams wants. He has spoken to this desire in the past when he accepted his current role with the club in 2012. When Jerry Reisndorf announced that his family will not keep the White Sox after he passes away, naturally it's fitting to see Williams lead the charge in purchasing the club. However, it's not guaranteed that Williams could lead a group of investors to be the highest bidder, or when that opportunity will arise.
After all of the hoopla, this has become a "non-story", with Williams focused on helping Hahn build a contender. It wouldn't be the end of the world if Williams left for another gig. If Williams feels he's ready for more responsibility, one that the White Sox won't offer to him, then by all means he should pursue it.
It's just a hard sell to fans that Williams is committed to help build a championship team again in Chicago, when it seems he was ready to turn in his two week notice.