Mike Rizzo Rumors

NL East Notes: Span, Utley, Hamels, Johnson, Familia

The Nationals activated Denard Span from the disabled list and inserted him into the starting lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Phillies, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. To make room for Span on the roster, Michael Taylor was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse despite slashing .271/.314/.500 in 51 plate appearances this season. “He is one of our future players and needs to play every day,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said in explaining the reasoning behind Taylor’s demotion. “We got to see Michael Taylor become a player for us right in front of our eyes. I thought he handled himself brilliantly with some youthful mistakes. The ability level is there. The usefulness of putting it to a Major League setting was there and he took to it very well.

Elsewhere in the NL East:

  • The Phillies have told teams over the past year Chase Utley will not waive his no-trade clause, but ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in an Insider piece (subscription required) the second baseman, facing a long rebuild in Philadelphia, may have a change of heart like former teammate Jimmy Rollins. Olney also notes rival evaluators believe Cole Hamels wants out of Philadelphia, as well.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez isn’t too concerned with Jim Johnson being roughed up in his last two appearances (four runs, six hits, and two home runs allowed) and will keep the right-hander in the role of the 8th inning setup reliever, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ll see how it plays out,” said Gonzalez. “But from what I saw in Spring Training, and other than these two outings here, I think he’s been fine. We always have a tendency to say what’s the matter with a guy as soon as he gives up something.
  • Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters, including MLB.com’s Joe Trezza, closer Jeurys Familia will remain in that role when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black join the club after completing their rehab assignments. “Certainly, right now Jeurys Familia has pitched well enough,” Collins said. “He is that guy until those other guys show us they’re ready.” Collins adds, in a perfect world, Parnell would be the closer with Black and Familia slotted for the 8th and 7th innings, respectively. Black’s return may be delayed as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets the right-hander will undergo a MRI of his shoulder/neck area.

NL Notes: Harper, Zimmermann, Marlins, Pirates, Rasmus

The latest salvo in Bryce Harper‘s grievance against the Nationals over his arbitration eligibility was fired yesterday when Harper failed to appear at NatsFest, the team’s annual fan convention. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including James Wagner of the Washington Post, “We’re disappointed he’s not here, but he chose not to be here because of the grievance.” Harper responded with a statement provided by his representatives and quoted by Wagner, “I have attended NatsFest each year and always enjoy my experience with the fans, but was unable to attend this year’s event due to matters out of my control. I look forward to next year’s NatsFest.” The grievance hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in New York. If Harper wins his grievance, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $2.5MM arbitration award for the outfielder (as opposed to the $1.5MM base his contract stipulates for 2015), which will create a larger platform for future arbitration earnings.

In other news and notes involving the National League:

  • Jordan Zimmermann reiterated his desire to sign an extension with the Nationals, but only at the right price, reports CSNWashington.com’s Chase Hughes. “If it’s a fair value, like I have said all along, I would gladly sign,” said Zimmermann. “But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be something that’s fair and if it’s not, then I’ll be moving on.
  • The Marlins are not willing to trade either Henderson Alvarez or Jarred Cosart for a first baseman, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson also reports the Marlins have had more talks with Michael Morse in recent days and he represents the best realistic option to upgrade the position.
  • The Marlins are listening to offers for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi; but, while the Pirates view him as a “terrific young pitcher” and “someone we’ll keep looking at,” club president Frank Coonelly says they are not close to bringing him to Pittsburgh, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer.
  • In a separate Singer tweet, Coonelly also downplays the return of Edinson Volquez. “Two years for $20MM not far off for Volquez,” Coonelly said. “He could get that. It probably won’t be here.
  • The Cubs have met recently with Colby Rasmus and are one of several teams to show interest in him, reports Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes identified the Cubs as a potential landing spot for Rasmus back in September while the Orioles and Royals have also been linked to the free agent center fielder.
  • With the elevation of Jeff Bridich to general manager, Rockies manager Walt Weiss has more independence in running the team with the front office no longer maintaining an offfice in the clubhouse and is more involved in player personnel decisions, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.

Blue Jays Interested In Rizzo To Replace Beeston

6:35pm: Rizzo says the Jays have not contacted him and that he remains focused on his job with the Nationals, Wagner tweets.

2:51pm: The Blue Jays are interested in Nationals GM and president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo to replace president and CEO Paul Beeston, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. The Jays have also been connected to Terry Ryan of the Twins, Kenny Williams of the White Sox and Dan Duquette of the Orioles to fill the position, although all have either been denied permission to interview for the job or have said they’re not interested. What will happen with Beeston isn’t yet entirely clear, with one report indicating that Beeston would remain on the job through 2015.

Rizzo’s level of interest, if any, in the Blue Jays job is unclear, and the Washington Post’s James Wagner tweets that the Nationals haven’t been contacted regarding Rizzo’s potential candidacy. Rizzo signed a new long-term deal with the Nationals in August 2013, which is when he was promoted to president of baseball operations.

Rizzo took over the Nationals’ GM job after Jim Bowden’s departure in 2009. Since then, the Nationals have made the playoffs twice, losing in the NLDS in both 2012 and 2014. He was named the BBWAA’s Executive of the Year following the 2012 season.

Nationals Extend, Promote Mike Rizzo

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. 

NL East Notes: Phillies, Gonzalez, Braves, Nationals

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. 

East Notes: Phillies, Harper, Marrero, Cano

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.

Rosenthal On Rizzo, Altuve, Mattingly

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.

Latest On Nationals, Mike Rizzo

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."

Nationals Exercise Mike Rizzo’s 2014 Option

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.

Nationals, Mike Rizzo Working On Extension

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.

Recently, Tim Dierkes recapped Rizzo's winter, which including signing the best available reliever in Rafael Soriano and re-signing Adam LaRoche.