Did Davey Martinez know it was close when he said earlier this week that he wanted to get a long-term extension done sooner than later with the 2020 campaign coming to an end?
It’s not clear.
But the Nationals’ third-year skipper did agree on what is reportedly a new three-year/$7.5M deal that will keep him in D.C. beyond this season after he led Washington to the first World Series championship by a D.C.-based team since 1924 in 2019.
“It’s awesome,” Martinez said on Saturday, in a press conference officially announcing the extension.
“Like I said, for me,” the manager explained, “... getting it done before the season was over, I get a chance to breathe a little bit, and get a chance to work moving forward knowing that I’m going to be here for quite some time, so I’m really excited about that.”
The response he received from his players excited him as well.
“What I loved about everything was the players, all the players coming in and talking,” he said.
“We sat around last night for a while — just how happy they were that they know that I’m going to be here for a while, and it’s something that’s consistent. We talked a lot about, ‘Hey, things won’t change,’ and they like that.
“So I said we’re going to continue to work hard, continue to compete, but also have fun and be as positive as we can possibly be for many, many years.
“I’m excited about that. I want to thank the Lerner family for giving me this opportunity, [GM] Mike [Rizzo] for giving me this opportunity to be here long-term.
“Like I said before, it was a tough year on the field, but I do believe that our future is very bright and that we’re going to compete again for another championship very, very soon.”
Rizzo, of course, got his own (reportedly three-year) extension earlier this month, and he said getting Martinez’s deal done was priority No. 1 as the club moves into building for a 2021 campaign they’re all hoping will be a normal one after this disappointing pandemic season in D.C.
“I thought it was vital for us to get it done before the season ended,” Rizzo said of the long-term deal with Martinez, who had a $1.2M club option included in the 3-year/$2.8M deal he signed with the club back in late 2017. Rather than just pick that up, Rizzo and the club got the longer-term deal done and brought some stability to the bench after they’d had a total of seven managers (six full-time) between 2005-2017.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Rizzo continued. “The day after this things ends we’re going to start on our 2021 prep, and to have that floating around and lingering over our heads that we didn’t have this thing done — and I said all along that I did not want to just pick up the club option, because I thought that that was walking into a 2021 season with a manager with a lame duck situation with one year, [and it] didn’t make a lot of sense to me strategically, and roster creation-wise, and all that stuff, so I thought it was important to get it done before the season ended because we have a lot of work to do immediately following the last out of the last game.”
The Nationals noted in a press release on Martinez’s extension that with 383 games under his belt after Saturday’s doubleheader, the skipper will pass Davey Johnson as the longest-tenured manager in team history (407 games) next season. That consistency, Rizzo said, is important for the organization as a whole.
“It allows us to give a consistent message to show that you’ll know the person that is going to be in charge of your career as a player, and I think that the partnership that Davey and I have together our communication styles are very similar.
“Our aspirations are similar and kind of our mindset of how to obtain the goals that we want to obtain are similar.
“I think it’s a good match. We couldn’t hit on a more positive and enthusiastic leader in the clubhouse and I think you see it shine through even in the most trying times, and this year by no means was a successful year for us on the field, but the way that this group has made it through this pandemic with all the protocols and all the uncertainty about the health of a older, aging roster was — I think some off Davey’s greatest leadership was shown this year by the way that we conducted ourselves and knock on wood that we’ve had no cases of COVID within our organization. Those are some of the things that off the top of my head shine through as to why continuity and consistency matter, and I think that will be echoed with the players that you talk to about the extension that we signed.”
“First off, it’s great that we extended Davey,” Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer told reporters after his final start of the season on Saturay.
“Very well-deserved. Everything from Day 1 to where he’s gotten to now, he’s really grown so much and he’s really become really one of my favorite managers of all.”
Scherzer was clear that he meant no disrespect to his other managers, but with Martinez, he said, “he’s everything you want in a manager.”