Nats extend GM Rizzo, Martinez may be next

General manager hopes to work out long-term deal with skipper

September 6th, 2020

The season after he helped lead them to the first World Series championship in franchise history, the Nationals agreed to a multiyear contract extension with president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo.

“We are thrilled that Mike will continue to lead our club,” Nationals managing principal owner Mark D. Lerner said in a statement on Saturday. “He guided us through the early years of building this franchise into what it is today -- a perennial contender that brought a World Series championship home to Washington, D.C., last season. I look forward to continuing our strong working relationship for years to come.”

Rizzo took over the Nationals’ baseball operations before the 2009 season. Since then, the team is 951-867 (.523) -- the Majors’ seventh-best record in that span. Washington has a .557 winning percentage in regular-season games since ‘12, the third-best percentage behind just the Dodgers (.589) and Yankees (.562). During Rizzo’s tenure, the Nats have captured four National League East titles (‘12, ‘14, ‘16, ‘17) and a Wild Card berth (‘19) in addition to their World Series title.

“We’re excited for the challenge to stay competitive and to stay at the top, and the prospects of winning another championship,” Rizzo said on Sunday. “That’s what this thing is all about. It’s what it’s always been for me, is to win [the] World Series and win rings -- and that’s going to continue.”

Rizzo has been at the helm for some of the Nationals’ most memorable transactions, including inking to a six-year contract extension; signing to a seven-year deal; acquiring and in a three-team deal; trading for and postseason hero in separate moves; signing to a six-year contract; and locking in on a seven-year contract.

Rizzo has also used the Draft to build the Nationals’ organizational depth, selecting Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon with first-round picks, and he has acquired key contributors Victor Robles and Juan Soto via international signings. The Nats have drafted and signed 58 eventual big league players through the Draft under Rizzo.

“I was ecstatic for Mike and his family. It’s great news,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We have an unbelievable working relationship together, and we bonded over the years. I’m elated for him; really, I am. He deserves it. He built this organization. Good for him. What an unbelievable job he’s done with this organization, and he goes down as a champion so he gets more years to build us up again and do it again.”

Like Rizzo prior to his extension, Martinez is in the final year of his contract. The team has a club option for 2021.

“That’s priority one is to get Davey taken care of,” Rizzo said. “My plan is, and my preference is, to not pick up the option and to go well beyond that. That’s the plan going forward: See if we can get something done, negotiate a longer-term deal with him that goes beyond just picking up the option.”

Rizzo, 59, was the Lerner family's first hire in 2006. He joined the organization as the Nationals’ assistant GM and began serving as GM early in the ‘09 season. Rizzo was named GM and senior vice president on Aug. 20, 2009. He became GM/executive VP of baseball operations on Oct. 19, 2010, and was promoted to his current role of president of baseball operations/GM on Aug. 1, 2013.

“My dad worked until he was 90 -- until the day he died -- so I’m here for the long haul,” Rizzo said. “As long as it feels good to me, and I’m having fun doing it and I’m enjoying the competition and the interaction with the players, I would love to do this thing for the rest of my life.”