Mike Rizzo took a few moments to share the news of his long-term (reportedly three-year) extension that will keep him in his role as the Washington Nationals’ President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, but then it was right back to business for the Nationals’ 59-year-old executive.
“I had a good conversation with my wife and my family and I called my top lieutenants in the organization,” Rizzo told reporters on Sunday morning, “...and had a good time doing that, but then we had [Braves’ starter Max] Fried on the mound last night, and we had to figure out a way to beat him.
“With the lineup that Davey [Martinez] patched together it was a remarkable W for us, so this job kind of lends to the fact that it’s Groundhog Day in many, many ways. So as my morning was a lot different than most mornings are, and enjoyable when I got to talk to [Nationals’ Managing Principal Owner] Mark Lerner and the family after I signed the extension, then you kind of lock back into business mode and you start dealing with the opponent on the field.”
In addition to dealing with Atlanta, and the task at hand this weekend, Rizzo said his first priority now that he got his deal done is making sure his manager’s future is settled.
Davey Martinez, who guided the Nationals to the first World Series championship for a D.C.-based team since 1924 last season, has a $1.2M club option for 2021 as part of the three-year/$2.8M deal he signed in 2017, and he told reporters after the announcement on Rizzo’s extension on Saturday that it could mean he is next in line.
“I know they’re going to do the right thing, I do believe that,” Martinez said.
“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.
“With that being said ... Mike getting his deal could possibly open up the doors here fairly soon, but ... today is about Mike and about us going out there today and going 1-0 today, that’s my focus right now.”
Martinez said he had good relationships in the organization and he and Rizzo have become close during their three years together in the nation’s capital.
“I speak to him probably five or six times a day, and he sits in my office with me throughout the day,” the manager explained. “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.
“All these things to me matter. At the end of the day all I want to do is come and do my job, and that’s manage this team and hopefully put up as many Ws as we possibly can.”
Rizzo said on Sunday that the feeling are mutual, and in his mind, he’d like to forget the club option for 2021 and work out something longer-term with the skipper.
“That’s priority one is to get Davey taken care of,” Rizzo said. “My plan is, and my preference is, to not pick up the option and go well beyond that and that’s the plan going forward, see if we can get something done and negotiate a longer-term deal with him that goes beyond just picking up the option.”
While picking up that club option for ‘21 would be easy, negotiating a longer-term deal will, obviously, be a bit more involved.
“When you’re discussing a new contract it’s different than just picking up an option,” Rizzo acknowledged.
“The option was under the old contract. My preference is just to disregard that and sign a new contract with him.”
Martinez said after Sunday’s game that he and Rizzo discussed the possibility of a long-term deal for the manager.
“He did mention something to me last night, and I told him I said, obviously I love it here, I love working with Rizzo, being a part of this organization means a lot to me and my family,” Martinez said, “... so yeah, if we can get something done it would be awesome. I want to be here, I think we have a bright future here. Especially with some of our young players, some of the starting pitchers we’ve got and the players we’ve got right now. So, I’m excited about it.
“We’ve got a long way to go this year, so as always I try to focus on tomorrow and then if something happens, I‘ll be really excited about it.”