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Washington Nationals news & notes: Kris Kline in new role + more front office talk...

Notes and quotes to keep you entertained during the slow, slow winter of 2023-24...

KRIS KLINE’S NEW ROLE:

Kris Kline joined the Nationals in 2006, was named director of scouting in D.C. in 2009, and promoted to Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops in 2013, but towards the end of the 2023 campaign, Kline was promoted to a new role as a special assistant to GM Mike Rizzo.

Rizzo signed a multi-year extension in Washington days after Washington Post writers Barry Svrluga and Andrew Golden reported on the change for Kline.

As the WaPost writers noted in their report, the move for Kline came, “amid major turnover in the Nats’ scouting department,” which included Johnny DiPuglia “the clubs’ international scouting director, [resigning from his role],” shortly after, “... 12 scouts were told they would not have their contracts renewed for next season.”

MLB-Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Rizzo and Co. in the front office in D.C. shook things up in scouting and player development, promoting from within, and adding new names to the mix, so what does it all mean for Kline going forward? And those 12 scouts whose contracts were not renewed? Will they all end up being replaced? Did they downsize the scouting staff?

“I think numbers-wise we’ve filled just about all of the positions that we let go,” Rizzo said at the Winter Meetings, addressing the turnover in the organization generally.

“We’ve revamped ... guys are going to take on different roles. We’re going to achieve our goals in different ways. Scouts are going to scout. They could be scouting amateur, they could be scouting pro, they could be advance scouting, they could be in international scouting. All the scouts that we have have a diverse background in evaluations and we’re going to put that to good use.”

Kline, in particular, he said, will be doing some different things than he’s done previously.

“[It’s going to be a] hybrid,” Rizzo said of Kline’s new role. “Kris is a special assistant to the GM, which often does professional scouting. He’s going to do some of that. He’s going to do some international scouting, and some amateur scouting, along with [Special Assistant to the GM] Jay Robertson, [Director of Player Procurement] Kasey McKeon, and those guys. All those special assistants to the GMs have been scouting directors in some organization in the past ... so they have experience in the amateur draft and obviously professionally and internationally.”

Lead The Way:

With a relatively young, unproven roster, especially as it’s constituted right now, Mike Rizzo’s Nats are looking for the next generation of leaders to emerge on the field, in the clubhouse, and in the community in the nation’s capital, and as the GM and President of Baseball Ops told reporters at the Winter Meetings last month, it’s not necessarily just a case of bringing in a few veterans to take on leadership roles, though that can help, but it’s also important for leaders on the club to emerge with maturity and experience playing at the major league level.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“You like the young players to become leaders themselves,” Rizzo explained.

“You saw it with Juan Soto when he was with us. [Soto went] from a young rookie to a guy who was getting to be one of the leaders of the club. I think that it’s important that the young players are comfortable with leading if that’s what they want to do, but I also believe that it has to be a blend with some veteran leadership along with some young guys taking leadership roles.”