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Washington Nationals on seeing “old friends” and more…

There are a number of former Nationals in the NL East… so what’s it like seeing some old teammates all the time.

Philadelphia Phillies Introduce Trea Turner
Trea has grown up so much he can grow a beard now.
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

“I’m happy for Trea,” Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters after Trea Turner’s 11-year/$300M free agent deal with Washington’s NL East rivals in Philadelphia was announced at the start of the 2022-23 Winter Meetings. “Love it. I’m glad he got paid a lot of money. He’s a winner.”

Rizzo did, of course, acquire Turner from San Diego as part of a three-team deal back in 2015, and the shortstop helped the club win the World Series in 2019, before he was dealt to the LA Dodgers in 2021 as part of the first stage of the organizational reboot Washington kicked off at the trade deadline that year.

Philadelphia Phillies Introduce Trea Turner Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Turner’s former manager in the nation’s capital too expressed happiness for the shortstop’s good fortune in landing the LONG-term deal, even if it is with an NL East rival.

“That was a big one,” the manager said of Turner’s Philly contract. “Well deserved. Trea is one of the best players in the game. He’s done well over the years. We won the championship together. That means a lot to me. I wish him all the best.

“I know he’s going to be in our division. We’ve got to figure out how to get him out and keep him off the bases.”

Turner, in Philly, joins Bryce Harper (out of action till mid-season next year after Tommy John surgery on his right elbow), who left D.C. via free agency and signed with the Phillies for 13 years and $330M after the 2018 campaign.

Then there’s Max Scherzer in New York (on a 3-year/$130M with the Mets he signed with after he too was traded to LA with Turner in 2021).

New York Mets v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

That’s a bunch of former world champs now competing against the Nationals within the division, though keeping all of them would have been prohibitively expensive, as Rizzo noted at the Winter Meetings.

“I would say to sign all those players would cost you like a billion dollars,” Rizzo suggested. “So again, you have to put the best product on the field you can with the numbers that are given to you, and we’ve done that for many, many years, and we’re on the verge of turning it over and doing it again.”

But is seeing all those talented players moved/moving on, and seeing them all the time afterwards tough for the GM or manager in D.C.?

“Absolutely not,” Rizzo said. “They’re our guys. They’ll always be our guys. We’ve had a lot of success together, and to move on and to get paid that amount of money — for all those guys — I couldn’t be happier for them, and I think that it’s a credit to this organization that you’ve had so many impactful players that have been drafted, signed, developed, and come through Washington, and I think it’s a credit to the guys in the room, the scouts and the player development guys that have done it.

“You look at everything around baseball, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another organization that has had as many impactful, performing players as us.”

Martinez, who formed a strong bond with each of the players mentioned above and more from 2019’s roster who have since moved on, said the relationships still continue even if they’re wearing different uniforms now.

“Especially now that we’re going to run into them quite a bit, you still have that bond with those guys,” Martinez said. “It seems like the Phillies got a lot of our guys over there now. It will be good to see [Turner], but also, like I said, we’ve got to compete against him.

“We’ve got to figure out how to get him out consistently.

Philadelphia Phillies Introduce Bryce Harper Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

“Like I said, he’s a big part of what we did in ‘19. He was a big part of that. I always wish these guys the best, and good for him that he got the money that he deserved, and he’s going to help a good team in our division try to win a championship.”

With the rest of the division spending big and loading up again this offseason, what is it like for the rebooting Nats who’ve finished fifth in the five-team division in each of the last three seasons after they won it all?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a competitive advantage for sure,” he said of all the spending within the NL East in particular, “… there’s no question about it. But again, when we started this thing back in 2009, we won 98 games in 2012 with a very low payroll, and continued to [ratchet it up] north, so we’re fully-capable of doing this again. We’ve — again, we’ve done it before, we know what the blueprint is all about. We know how to do it. We’ve had a couple of lean years for sure, but after every lean couple of years, we’ve had 10 years of success, and when you look at what we’ve done since 2012, it’s hard to not foresee that we’re capable of doing it again.”