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The Nationals announced that Mike Rizzo has signed a new long-term contract with the team and has been promoted to the position of President of Baseball Operations. The exact length of the deal is not yet known for Rizzo, who will still keep the mantle of General Manager.
Rizzo, who was appointed GM in 2009 after serving as assistant GM since 2006, has been working on a new deal with the Nats since April. Last year, in his fourth year at the helm, Washington won an MLB-best 98 games and the NL East title.
“Upon purchasing the Nationals, Mike Rizzo was our first hire and he has performed brilliantly,” said managing principal owner Theodore N. Lerner in the statement. “We started with an idea about how baseball teams should be built and he translated it into a reality far faster than many could have imagined. He knows the game, the players, and is a true professional. Under his direct leadership, the Nationals have become one of the most exciting and respected young teams in baseball.”
The Nationals exercised their 2014 option on Rizzo's contract in late April as they continued to negotiate on a fresh contract. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post speculated at the time that the move might have created a fizzure betwen the GM and the club since his that contract put him in the bottom third of salary for his position. If there was an issue between the two sides, it appears to be water under the bridge with today's announcement.
Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned today amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Two sources told Spencer the agent for recently-demoted second baseman Derek Dietrich contacted the team several months ago to report an incident where Martinez erupted in anger unjustly and grabbed a player by his neck and neck chain. The MLBPA was notified of the alleged incident, as well as others involving Martinez, and the union then contacted the Commisioner's office and that office was expected to contact the Marlins on Tuesday, Spencer reports. Martinez, who had never been a Major League coach before this season, was owner Jeffrey Loria’s hand-picked selection to become Marlins' hitting coach. The Red Sox also had interest in hiring Martinez before he took the job with the Marlins. In other news and notes coming from the NL East:
- The Phillies are still not acknowledging the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as sources say the Cuban right-hander is awaiting visa approval, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract with the Phillies, which could be worth as much as $59MM.
- Gelb also tweeted that Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins indicated he is not willing to waive his no-trade clause, if asked.
- There is no indication the Phillies are aggressively taking offers for Chase Utley in the event a contract extension cannot be reached, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- The Braves have not had any conversations with the Royals regarding Ervin Santana, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, he would like to add some more depth before the Trade Deadline. "If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack," Rizzo said. "We’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls."
- Manager Terry Collins doesn't expect the Mets to make any moves prior to the Trade Deadline, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Marlon Byrd is the Met name most mentioned in trade rumors and a team source tells Ackert the asking price is a top 10-15 prospect.
In the aftermath of a 20-inning loss to the Marlins, the Mets designated Rick Ankiel for assignment and recalled Kirk Nieuwenhuis. However, the team's biggest concern was the health of young ace Matt Harvey, who left the game with stiffness in his lower back. But as Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports, Harvey is apparently fine and will make his next scheduled start on Friday. Here's more news from around MLB's East divisions:
- The Phillies' recent hot streak may have turned the club from sellers to buyers, argues Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brookover notes the discussion just last week was about which top players would be unloaded, whereas now it is about what pieces could be added to the young core.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo downplayed Bryce Harper's visit to orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion regarding the bursitis in the outfielder's left knee, according to MLB.com's William Ladson. "There's no worry," Rizzo said. "It is our protocol that players get a second opinion on any part of the body that we feel is a disabled list-type of injury. Guys get second opinions all the time here, and every guy that we put on the disabled list has gotten a second opinion." Harper is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and is expected to rejoin the team then.
- Chris Marrero may be up to stay, although the first baseman is temporarily serving as the Nationals' 26th man for today's doubleheader reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The former first rounder may help the Nationals' disappointing offense get going, as Marrero has hit for a .306/.355/.502 line in 228 plate appearances.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Alex Rodriguez saga hurts Robinson Cano in his negotiations with the Yankees in a way you might not expect. While Rodriguez’s record deal looks like it has soured from a value perspective, Sherman argues that the negative attention the contract has gotten has been even more detrimental. Cano is the top ranked free agent on MLBTR'S 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo might make an intriguing free agent after the 2015 season, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal says in a recent video. Rizzo's friends tell Rosenthal that Rizzo is not afraid of leaving after 2015 if the team does not pay him well. The Nats exercised their 2014 option on Rizzo last month, and have another option for 2015. Earlier this week, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported that the decision to exercise the 2014 option may have annoyed Rizzo, since the contract from which the option came was not especially lucrative. Under the 2014 option, Rizzo will be in the bottom third in GM pay, Kilgore noted. Here's more from Rosenthal.
- Rosenthal notes that Jose Altuve's recent decision to leave Scott Boras for his old agency, Octagon, is not necessarily an indication that Altuve will sign long-term with the Astros. There are currently no extension talks between the two sides, Rosenthal reports.
- If the Dodgers were to fire manager Don Mattingly, one problem would be that there are few obvious replacements, Rosenthal reports in another video. Neither Tony LaRussa nor Bobby Cox look like likely options, and members of Mattingly's staff like Davey Lopes, Trey Hillman and Tim Wallach aren't ideal. Still, Rosenthal says, the Dodgers will likely fire Mattingly anyway if the team doesn't improve, and the Dodgers have a rough schedule coming up.
In an April 29th poll of over 28,000 MLBTR readers, 3.25% voted for the Nationals' Mike Rizzo as the best GM in baseball. That placed Rizzo 13th overall; only Billy Beane received more than 9% of the vote. A few days prior, the Nationals had exercised Rizzo's 2014 club option. On the face of it, that move was seen as a show of support from ownership for the GM, as they were not obligated to make a decision until after the season. At the time, it was reported that the two sides were working on an extension beyond 2014, and also noted that the Nats still retain a 2015 club option.
Upon deeper examination from Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, exercising Rizzo's club option may not have been a generous move by the team. The move "may have created a potential fissure between ownership and its general manager," writes Kilgore. Since Rizzo signed on in 2010 with no experience as a full-time GM, his contract was quite team-friendly, putting him in the bottom third in salary for his position and allowing for the pair of club options. As we've seen with players with less than a year's service time, such as Matt Moore and Salvador Perez, the team has all the leverage at that point.
Nationals owner Mark Lerner seemed to admit Saturday that extension talks with Rizzo have not yet taken place, despite earlier statements to the contrary. Lerner still expressed optimism for a deal, while Rizzo told Kilgore, "I’d like to be here for the long term. I hope the Lerner family feels the same way."
The Nationals have exercised their 2014 contract option for GM Mike Rizzo, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson, as they continue to work on an extension beyond next season. Rizzo's current contract also has a club option for 2015.
Rizzo was named the Nationals' interim GM in March 2009, and was hired full-time in August of that year. In 2012, Rizzo's fourth season at the helm, the team won an MLB-best 98 games.
For the Nats, Rizzo has drafted Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Drew Storen, and Anthony Rendon among others. Rizzo's major trades include Mike Morse, Sean Burnett, Wilson Ramos, Gio Gonzalez, and Denard Span. He's signed free agents such as Jayson Werth, Rafael Soriano, Adam LaRoche, Jason Marquis, Dan Haren, and Edwin Jackson and done significant extensions with Ryan Zimmerman and Gonzalez.
The Nationals want to keep General Manager Mike Rizzo in place for the long term and the club is currently in talks with him about a contract extension, according to Amanda Comak of The Washington Times. Nats principal owner Mark Lerner confirmed that the two sides are discussing a new deal.
One source with knowledge of the discussion told Comak that the Nationals have already indicated they will exercise the 2014 option on Rizzo’s contract, securing him through at least next season. The GM is currently entering the final guaranteed year of the five-year pact he signed before the 2011 season. Any deal that is worked out between the two sides will have to include a significant pay raise for Rizzo, Comak writes.
Thirty-one years ago today, the Cubs and Phillies swapped shortstops with Ivan DeJesus heading to Philadelphia and Larry Bowa going to Chicago. The Cubs also acquired a 22-year-old prospect by the name of Ryne Sandberg. This prospect managed to be named the 1984 National League MVP, played 16 years, finished with a career slash line of .285/.344/.452, and was enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. Let's take a look at the news and notes involving the Cubs and the rest of the Senior Circuit:
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio "never say never…but likely this is the team we go to Spring Training with," Bowden tweeted.
- Regarding Matt Garza, Hoyer told Bowden and Duquette the focus is to get him healthy and into the Cubs' rotation; but, that could change since Garza will become a free agent after the 2013 season and the team needs to collect talent (Twitter link).
- Homer Bailey says "nothing has been mentioned at all" about a long-term contract with the Reds, but "it would be something to consider," reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The arbitration eligible right-hander says the arb process has been slower this year because of the Reds' large arbitration class, but "it will all work itself out." You can follow all arbitration cases by using the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has reached out to Scott Rolen to express the team's interest in him, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Mattingly said he spoke to Rolen about what the Dodgers envision his role would be, but did not ask Rolen specifically about his decision making or timing. The Dodgers see the 37-year-old as insurance if Luis Cruz fails at third base, as well as a potential right-handed-hitting backup to Adrian Gonzalez at first base.
- Braves GM Frank Wren sat down for an interview with Bill Shanks of the Macon Telegraph and spoke in great detail about the Justin Upton trade, the financial flexibility the deal gives the Braves, and whether future payrolls will be increased from the current $98MM.
- Nationals relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were both surprised by the signing of Rafael Soriano, but believe he makes the team better, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. GM Mike Rizzo met with Storen and Clippard this weekend to reassure them that acquiring Soriano was not a reflection on their abilities, Comak added.
Let's catch up on the latest stories and happenings taking place in front offices from around the league…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington spoke to Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio about the status of free agent Mike Napoli and where the slugger stands with the team. Cherington told Bowden (via Twitter) that Boston is still looking to add offense to the first base position as the club still considers Napoli to be a free agent. He added that the Red Sox will continue to work through the issues of signing Napoli but admits there is no deal at this point (on Twitter).
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo faces the task of improving a 98-win team this offseason and recently took a break from the action to chat with MLB.com's Bill Ladson on the state of Nationals baseball. Rizzo points to the young, talented players on his roster taking the proverbial "next step" as one of the factors for the team's continued success in 2013.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti's major concern for his roster isn't about adding more pieces but rather making sure players are fully recovered from various injuries before Spring Training starts, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "We're fine right now if we come into camp, we're in a good spot," Colletti said.
The Nationals are scouting Javier Vazquez as GM Mike Rizzo traveled to Puerto Rico this evening to watch the veteran right-hander pitch, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (on Twitter). While Washington already has one of the strongest rotations in all of baseball, adding an insurance arm may make sense given Dan Haren's health issues last season.
Vazquez has been contacted by 15 teams about his services, but does not plan to sign with a club until after the World Baseball Classic in March and will only consider pitching for a contender, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The former All-Star last pitched for the Marlins in 2011 where he posted a 3.69 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 192.2 innings.