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Nationals' all-time top GMs: Camerato's take

@jessicacamerato
June 23, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we've asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top managers in the history of their franchise, based on their time guiding that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only …

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we've asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top managers in the history of their franchise, based on their time guiding that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don't agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite.

Nationals/Expos all-time team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | LF | CF | RF | RHP | LHP | Bullpen | Manager

Here is Jessica Camerato's ranking of the top three GMs in Expos and Nationals franchise history:

1) Mike Rizzo, Nationals (2009-present)
Key fact: Led the Nationals to their first World Series championship in 2019

Mission accomplished.

Rizzo was the Lerner family's first hire in 2006, when he joined the organization as the Nationals assistant general manager and embarked on his pursuit of bringing a title to the team. Just three years later, he began acting as GM early in the ‘09 season, then officially was named general manager and senior vice president on Aug. 20, 2009. From there, Rizzo became the GM/executive VP of baseball operations on Oct. 19, 2010. He was promoted to his current role of president of baseball operations/GM on Aug. 1, 2013.

Since Rizzo began GM duties in 2009, Washington is 938-843 -- the sixth-best record in baseball in the past 11 seasons. The Nats made their first playoff appearance since relocating in 2012, and the team holds baseball's second-best record (730-566) since that season. Additionally, the Nationals have posted winning records in eight straight seasons. This streak trails only the Yankees (27), Cardinals (12) and Dodgers (9) in active winning seasons.

Those victories culminated last October in the franchise’s first title -- a dramatic comeback story from a 19-31 start to the season.

Some of Rizzo's memorable transactions as GM include: signing Jayson Werth to a seven-year contract; signing Ryan Zimmerman to a six-year contract extension; inking Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal; acquiring Trea Turner and Joe Ross in a three-team trade; acquiring Adam Eaton; trading for postseason hero Howie Kendrick; signing Patrick Corbin to a six-year contract, and keeping Stephen Strasburg in a Nats uniform with a record-setting, seven-year contract.

Rizzo also had an eye for building the franchise with Draft picks, including Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, and the international prospect signings of Victor Robles and Juan Soto.

Rizzo entered 2020 as Major League Baseball's fourth-longest tenured GM.

2) Dan Duquette, Expos (1991-94)
Key fact: Named the Sporting News' Executive of the Year in 1992

The Expos saw a 16-win swing from 1991 to '92, going from last place to second in the National League East. Their 94-68 record in 1993 marked the fifth-highest win total in franchise history.

During Duquette's tenure, he added some of baseball's top names to the organization. The Expos signed outfielder Vladimir Guerrero as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic on March 1, 1993. Guerrero went on to become a Hall of Famer, nine-time All-Star and eight-time Silver Slugger.

Later that year, the Expos acquired another future Hall of Famer -- Pedro Martinez -- from the Dodgers for Delino DeShields. Martinez is the only Expos pitcher to win a Cy Young Award (three total over his career). And when the righty was traded in 1997, it was to Boston, where Duquette had become GM.

Duquette served many roles with the Expos -- director of player development (1988-90), assistant general manager (1991) and general manager (1992-93) -- before departing in early '94.

3) John McHale, Expos (1978-84)
Key fact: Expos made first postseason appearance in club history in 1981

Montreal hired McHale in 1968 as its first president. Ten years later, he became general manager.

In January 1979, the Expos signed Andrés Galarraga as an amateur free agent from Venezuela. That signing was a clear success, with "The Big Cat" playing for Montreal from 1985-91 (earning two Gold Glove Awards, a Silver Slugger and an All-Star nod). Also in 1979, the Expos selected Tim Wallach with the 10th overall pick in the Draft. That was another success. Wallach played for the Expos from 1980-92, tallying five All-Star selections, three Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Sluggers. Wallach also is the franchise leader in games played, at-bats and plate appearances.

McHale oversaw the additions of talented arms, too. In 1981, the Expos acquired Jeff Reardon from the Mets. The righty went on to become the franchise leader in saves. Two years later, Montreal traded for Tim Burke, who holds the lowest ERA in club history (minimum 500 innings).

The Expos' 1979 record of 95-67 is tied with the 2016 Nationals for fourth-most wins in club history.

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.