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Washington Nationals reportedly sign Keibert Ruiz to 8-year/$50M extension + Stone Garrett homers…

News and notes on the Nats from Friday in West Palm Beach, FL.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals Workouts Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Keibert Gets Extension:

Mike Rizzo described catcher Keibert Ruiz as the “main cog” in the trade at 2021’s deadline which sent both Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to LA for a 4-player package which also included starter Josiah Gray, prospect Gerardo Carrillo, and minor league outfielder Donovan Casey.

“Not only did we get a very talented, impactful player [in Ruiz],” Rizzo explained, “we got that at a position that we really needed it. It’s one of the key positions in all of baseball, and like when we acquired Wilson Ramos in a trade, you could see what that particular position had, and the impact that position can do for a baseball team, and I think that [Ruiz] was a focal point of what we were trying to do at the trade deadline, and we identified him, and he was the main cog that we were trying to get.”

Ruiz has been treated as such since he was acquired. He was called up after a brief stint at Triple-A in the Nats’ system late in 2021, and he played 112 games as the club’s No. 1 catcher last season, with solid numbers (.251/.313/.360 line, 22 doubles and seven home runs in 433 plate appearances, and a .992 fld%, 20 runners caught stealing, four runners picked off first), before an unfortunate injury ended his season in early September.

“He’s a tough kid,” Martinez said of his catcher late last year.

“He played through a lot of minor injuries, a lot of balls to the head. He was fine, but I’ll tell you, he’s done really well. Like I’ve said earlier, we talk about him a lot, but he’s matured behind the plate. He’s gotten a lot better at calling games. His hitting has gotten a lot better. As you know, he’s a catch-and-throw guy. I mean, he can throw guys out. He blocks balls well.

“He’s going to be a big part of our future moving forward. And I truly believe one of these years, this kid will be an All-Star. He’s improved that much.”

Martinez talked about Ruiz this spring as a big part of the core of what they have been building since the sell-off at the ‘21 deadline kicked off the organizational reboot or reset in D.C. as they try to get back to contending for annual postseason berths and eventually more World Series championships.

The club acted quickly to make sure the catcher will be a mainstay in the nation’s capital on Friday night, with multiple reports they’ve signed Ruiz to an 8-year/$50M extension:

Stone Mountain:

Davey Martinez mentioned his name briefly when the Nationals’ manager spoke at the 2022-23 Winter Meetings about Washington signing former D-backs’ outfielder Stone Garrett over the winter, after he’d debuted in the majors with Arizona in 2022, and put up a .276/.309/.539 line with eight doubles and four home runs in 84 plate appearances over 27 games.

Garrett, now 27, signed as a free agent with the Nats in late November of ‘22, getting a big league deal from his new club.

His name came up when the skipper in D.C. was asked about adding a bat with some pop to the mix with the roster the front office had assembled to that point for the 2023 season.

“One could be Stone Garrett that we got from Arizona that we kind of like the way he swings the bat,” Martinez said.

“We liked his skill-set,” GM Mike Rizzo said of the outfielder/DH who put up a .275/.332/.568 line, 22 doubles, and 28 home runs at Triple-A in Arizona’s minor league system last season (playing in the PCL), in 103 games and 431 PAs.

“[Director of Player Development] De Jon [Watson] loved the make-up, and we just think that he brings a — he’s an option-able player that’s going to compete for at-bats at the big league level. We see a guy that has some power, that’s kind of refining his game, but we will — we’re going to allot him some time to improve his craft either at the big league level or at the minor league level.”

Early in camp this spring, Martinez talked about the 2014 8th Round pick, (taken by the Miami Marlins), as one of several new players in Spring Training fighting for one of the available spots on the Nationals’ big league roster for 2023.

“Yeah, we got a few guys that are fighting for that extra spot,” the manager said in the first days in West Palm Beach, FL. “I just want everybody to go out there and play the game the right way this spring, and get ready for the season, so when those decisions come up we’ll take the best 26 guys we can.”

“I know Stone’s got a lot of power,” Martinez said, as quoted by’s Paul Casella earlier this month, “… so hopefully that comes out this spring and we see some of that.”

Last night, in FITTEAM Ballpark it was on full display as Garrett hit a towering shot to left field for his first home run of the spring off of Marlins’ lefty Jesús Luzardo: