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Washington Nationals lock up Mike Rizzo, when does Davey Martinez get an extension?

The skipper says he’s never worried about his future with the Nationals because of his special relationship with his boss.

MLB: Game One-Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves
With Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo in place under a three-year contract extension, the next question for the Washington Nationals is when will they extend field manager Davey Martinez.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Even in the middle of the COVID-distorted 2020 season, the best news out of the Washington Nationals’ front office so far this season is the extension of General Manager Mike Rizzo’s contract through the 2023 season.

It doesn’t matter what else happens on the field in 2020, the news that Rizzo will be running the franchise for the next three seasons is the best thing that could happen to a team that’s looking toward its future in the midst of a pandemic-shortened season that is likely to end before the postseason.

The big question now that the Nats have locked in the architect of the 2019 World Series Champions: When will they do the same for the manager? A new deal for Davey Martinez would keep together a GM-skipper tandem with a special working relationship.

“He deserves it. He built this organization,” said Martinez of Rizzo’s extension before Saturday’s game.

”It’s just one unbelievable job he’s done with this organization, and he goes down as a champion, so he gets more years to build this up again and do it again.”

Owners Theodore and Mark Lerner were astute to get the deal done with Rizzo before the end of this season, and it makes sense that Rizzo would, in turn, get Martinez’s deal done quickly.

“Mike getting his deal could possibly open up the doors here fairly soon,” said Martinez before insisting that he’s not concerned.

“I know they’re going to do the right thing, I do believe that,” said Martinez.

“I’ve had a good relationship with the Lerner family, they know how I feel about being here, I love it, I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Extending Martinez seems like a no-brainer, but why is the timing so important?

Getting Martinez under contract quickly sends a vote of confidence to him, his staff, and the players. It sends a message that the team is going to do the best it can with what it has in this crazy 2020 season, but Rizzo or Martinez, or any of the team’s stars for that matter, won’t be blamed if the 2020 season ends short of expectations. Without giving up on this season, the Nats need to make sure they can win in 2021 and beyond.

Taking over as general manager in 2009, Rizzo turned a 103-loss team into a winner in just three seasons, and the Nats haven’t finished with a losing record since 2012. The streak of eight straight winning seasons includes four division championships, five postseason appearances, a National League pennant and a World Series banner. Even in their 20s and 30s glory, the original Senators never had more than four straight wining seasons, and the expansion Senators finished above .500 only once.

The closest Washington sports corollary to this team’s run of success is the Washington NFL team’s run under GM Bobby Beathard and Coach Joe Gibbs in the 1980s, including a run of six straight winning seasons, four division titles, three conference championships and two Super Bowl titles.

What that team had in common with the Nationals is a pair of young leaders who valued scouting, organization, adaptability and persistence, and put their plans into action. The fact that Rizzo and Martinez work so well together makes the Nats’ future look all the brighter.

“Mike and I are really, really close,” Martinez said. “I speak to him probably five or six times a day, and he sits in my office with me throughout the day, and we can talk virtually about anything. It’s a great relationship, and I owe him a lot. He’s the first guy to give me an opportunity to manage in the big leagues and I appreciate that very much and we won a championship together.”

But until the day comes to sign his extension, Martinez has other concerns.

“I just focus on how to help the team win, just like I do right now. I don’t worry about the business side of this, I know we’ve got great people who run this organization, great family. They mean a lot to me and they know that. Like I said, Mike is done, so mine should be coming around the corner here soon.”