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Rizzo optimistic extension will get done with Nats

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals have several high-profile players set to hit free agency after the 2018 season, which will make this perhaps the most crucial year in team history. There is another key member of the organization with an expiring contract to go along with Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Madson.

Mike Rizzo is entering the final season of his contract as general manager of the Nationals. He has been in the organization for 12 seasons, serving as the GM for the past nine and president of baseball operations the past five. Rizzo has helped transform the team into the perennial contender it is now. And yet, his current contract is set to expire on Oct. 31.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals have several high-profile players set to hit free agency after the 2018 season, which will make this perhaps the most crucial year in team history. There is another key member of the organization with an expiring contract to go along with Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Madson.

Mike Rizzo is entering the final season of his contract as general manager of the Nationals. He has been in the organization for 12 seasons, serving as the GM for the past nine and president of baseball operations the past five. Rizzo has helped transform the team into the perennial contender it is now. And yet, his current contract is set to expire on Oct. 31.

Following the Nats' first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Friday afternoon, Rizzo said he has had some initial discussions about his contract situation with the ownership group, while expressing optimism that a new deal will eventually get done.

"We've got a great rapport and a great trust," Rizzo said. "I'm confident that things will work out."

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Only one Major League team -- the Dodgers -- has won more regular-season games during the past five years than the Nationals. Washington has captured the National League East in four of the past six seasons. Although that success has yet to translate to postseason wins, the Nats have become one of the most consistent winners across the big leagues.

Rizzo has helped build the Nats from those 100-loss seasons to a team that is coming off consecutive division titles and is the favorite to win a third. He has been praised for his success on the trade market -- acquiring Trea Turner and Joe Ross in a three-team deal in 2014; trading Alex Meyer for Denard Span in '12; and trading Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos in '10. Rizzo has also invested well in the free-agent market, signing Max Scherzer and Murphy in '15 and '16, respectively.

In May 2016, the Nationals picked up a two-year extension in Rizzo's contract that will reportedly pay him about $2.5 million in '18. That could put him in position for a raise in his next contract. Ted Lerner, the Nationals' principal owner, told The Washington Post in November that they "haven't reached that stage yet, but we would hope to continue success with him."

A year ago, the Nationals began camp with their manager, Dusty Baker, entering the final season of his contract. And although they expressed confidence in him throughout the spring and season, his contract was not renewed this past offseason.

This next winter is going to be a key offseason for the Nats, especially considering Harper's impending free agency and recruitment. The team could look drastically different a year from now, but will the man who helped construct the current club be around to see those changes through?

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals