Mike Rizzo got a two-year deal, which included a club option for 2023 in late 2020, after the Nationals won the first World Series by a D.C.-based team since 1924 in 2019, and Washington’s skipper, Davey Martinez, was extended then as well, on his own two-year deal with a club option for ‘23 at $3.5M. Both club options needed to be exercised by July 15th of 2022.
The club didn’t wait until the last possible minute, announcing yesterday they picked both options up, giving the organization some stability at the top as the current owners explore potentially selling the team.
“Mike and Davey have been leading the Washington Nationals for several years and it is only right to continue with them at the forefront,” Nationals’ Managing Principal owner Mark D. Lerner said in a press release on the decisions to exercise the options.
“Mike has led us through many different phases of our organization and we believe his work during this current phase will pay off in the end. Davey has done a tremendous job in the clubhouse and in the dugout for five seasons. His continued determination and unwavering support of his players makes us proud. We are lucky to have Mike and Davey leading the way.”
Martinez talked to reporters before Saturday’s game about the importance of getting his own option exercised along with Rizzo’s.
“I couldn’t see myself doing this without [Rizzo], really,” the fifth-year skipper explained.
“[Rizzo has] guided me through my first year here, through thick and thin. We’re, like I’ve said before, he’s like a brother to me. We have a lot of tough conversations, some good, some not so good. But we understand what we’re trying to do, so it’s a lot of fun. And I appreciate everything he does, I really do. He works his tail off. And we want to get better.”
Martinez said until this past spring, he wasn’t aware of the July 15th deadline to exercise the club option for ‘23.
“You know what, quite honestly, I didn’t know that was in there until Spring Training. And so once they told me, I was like — at first I thought it was weird, and then I thought, you know what, whatever. We’ll see what happens. but like I said, I’m just really happy that I’ll be here and I’ll get to see this thing through, so it’s — like I said, we got a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to it.”
Keeping Rizzo and Martinez around to continue the reboot they kicked off with a sell-off of expiring deals (and one-and-a-half years of control of Trea Turner) will allow them to see all the changes they’ve put in motion through as they try to build the next contending club in the nation’s capital.
“I know we’ve had a tough go,” Martinez said, “but I’m seeing some really good things. Like I’ve said, our young players are performing a lot better, but we had a plan coming into this year, so I think we’re in a good spot, and I think we’re going to get better fairly quickly, so I’m really excited about it. I really am.
“So, I get to see this through another year and then we’ll see what happens after that. But like I said, I couldn’t do this without the supporting cast around me, and that comes from the upstairs, to the training staff, to the coaches who I love, and the players, so I’m very excited.”
Martinez said it was important to his players too to know there will be some stability in the organization, in spite of the changes in the last few years, and possible sale of the club.
“I think it does bring some continuity to this organization, but to the players as well, which is nice,” Martinez said, “... and also to the training staff, and coaching staff, and it’s nice to know that we’re going to be together and we’re going to continue to work the way we do.”
Had players expressed concern about his future? Did not knowing affect them?
“I think sometimes it does,” Martinez said. “They ask questions about, ‘Are you going to be around?’ And I say, ‘Yeah, I don’t see myself going anywhere else, do you?’ Like you know, and they look at me, like, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘Okay, then we’re good, don’t worry about it, just go play.’ But it is kind of nice that they know I’m going to be here, and I know that I’m going to be here to help them.”
It wasn’t something he spent too much time thinking about, Martinez told reporters, which is on-brand for Mr. 1-0 Every Day.
“It really wasn’t. I can only control the controllables, and as you guys know, I really believe in just taking care of what I can take care of, and when [Partner and CEO] Alan [Gottlieb] and Mark [Lerner] talked to me about it, like I said, I was excited that the deal got done, and they picked up my option, and like I said, but that doesn’t change who I am, or what I’m trying to do. I’m going to work just as hard as I’ve ever worked before to get these guys better.”
As he sees it, Martinez said, he and Rizzo, and everyone else in the front office in D.C., are building something special, and they will be back contending for division titles and World Series championships sooner than later.
“I really believe we’re going to compete a lot sooner than people say,” Martinez said.
“We’re doing a lot of good things. If you can see our minor leagues, guys are playing well, they’re getting better, and they’re starting to understand that winning is important, very important, and we’re pushing these guys to learn how to win. As we do here. I don’t ever sit down and accept the fact that we lose. I make these guys understand what transpired, and we talk to them about, and we need to get better. At the end of the day, when the game is over, we want to have another number in that win column, but with that being said, I do understand the big picture, and where we’re trying to go, so I got to keep that in check, I really do, because some days as you see me here speaking, it’s tough, but I got to understand hey, we’re going to teach. I got to continue to teach, continue to get these guys better, and that the end result will come.”
“I can see things starting to get better, and sometimes it takes a little longer than you want,” he added, “but we’ve got to stick with it, and we really feel like we have some really good, young talented players with us now, and we got some really good ones coming here fairly soon. So I think, like I said, this organization is heading in the right direction.