According to a report this morning by Washington Post beat writer Jorge Castillo, the Washington Nationals and Mike Rizzo have once again “discussed his situation” (Rizzo is only under contract through this season) and the Nats’ GM since 2009, and President of Baseball Operations in D.C. since 2013, “... is optimistic he’ll remain in his position beyond 2018.”
Here’s what Rizzo had to say according to the WaPost story this morning:
“I’ve had a couple conversations with ownership about my contract,” Rizzo said at spring training media day. “I’ve been here for 12 years. With the trust that we’ve developed over the years, I feel confident that we should get something done.”
Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner told Castillo’s colleague at the Washington Post, columnist Barry Svrluga, this past November that he hoped the relationship with the Nats’ GM, which goes back to 2006 (when he was their first hire), would continue beyond the current deal.
“I would hope so,” Lerner said when asked if he thought Rizzo would remain in his current position going forward.
“We haven’t reached that stage yet. But we would hope to continue success with him.”
Described in the 2017 Season in Review written up by the Nationals’ PR department as the “architect of the Washington Nationals” who has “... overseen the organization’s swift ascension into a perennial contender,” Rizzo has, they note, also transformed the barren minor league system the team inherited from Montreal into, “... a powerhouse feeder system for the big league team,” and, “... keyed the organization’s transition to success at the Major League level.”
Since 2012, when the Nats made their first postseason appearance since returning to the nation’s capital, the Nationals’ 555 wins are second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers (559) amongst Major League teams, and they’ve won the NL East in four of the last six seasons, while failing to advance beyond the NLDS in any of those postseason appearances.
The Nationals are also entering a key season for the team, which is expected to contend for a World Series title again and has a number of key players (including 2010 No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper) heading for free agency next winter barring an extension before the end of the 2018 campaign.
Will keeping Rizzo, who drafted and oversaw the development of Harper into an NL MVP and one of the biggest stars in the game, and stability at the top of the organization, help convince Harper, and other pending free agents, to stay in the nation’s capital?
Washington exercised a two-year option for Rizzo, which covered 2017-18, back in May of 2016, with Cot’s Baseball Contracts reporting at the time that the Nats’ GM and President of Baseball Ops would earn a total of $10M between 2014-18.
Asked in an MLB Network interview earlier this winter about his own contract status going into 2018, Rizzo declined to discuss his own future, explaining that he was solely focused on the team’s on-field success.
“The Lerner family and I have great respect for each other, we’ve had a great relationship and that’s the furthest thing from my mind right now,” he said.
“We’re trying to build this team. I was an area scout for a long time, I was on twenty-one one-year contracts as an area scout in my career. We’re good where we’re at and I’m worried about one thing, and it’s to put the best product that we can on the field for 2018 and beyond. That’s my focus and that’s where it will remain.”
Will the Nationals lock Rizzo up for the next couple seasons, assuring some stability for a franchise that’s had a run of success under the current regime, and has big negotiations with talented players coming up in the next 12 months?