Mike Rizzo Rumors
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.
The Nationals are sending Ross Detwiler to the mound in a must-win home game against the Cardinals this afternoon. In the meantime here are some Nationals-related links...
- The decision to shut Stephen Strasburg down appears to have irked people around MLB. Baseball executives are rooting for the Nationals to get eliminated from the playoffs, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. One GM said the Nationals “don’t deserve to win it” and another said "I hope they go down in flames. I hope it takes another 79 years before they get back to the playoffs. That's how strongly I feel about it."
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post points out that Washington GM Mike Rizzo has financial incentives to win big now, since a contract extension could be at stake (Twitter link). Though the decision to shut Strasburg down was debatable, it doesn’t seem to have been motivated by self-interest. Rizzo's contract covers 2013 and includes club options for 2014 and 2015, according to Kilgore.
- Edwin Jackson's disappointing Division Series start will likely be the last one he makes with the Nationals, Deron Snyder of the Washington Times writes. “It could be, it could not be,” Jackson said. “That’s definitely not the way I wanted to end it.” The right-hander hits free agency this offseason.
The Tigers have a magic number of one tonight, which means a win over the Royals or a White Sox loss would be enough to send Detroit to the postseason for the second consecutive year. Here are today's links as we await a full slate of games Monday night...
- Agents Jeff Frye and Mike McCann have joined together, MLBTR has learned. Frye McCann Sports represents MLB players such as Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver, Shawn Kelley, Michael Saunders, Adam Moore and Stephen Pryor. Check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for details on all player representatives, including Frye, the eight-year MLB veteran, and McCann.
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post profiles Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, detailing the journey he took from area scout to general manager. Years of scouting enable Rizzo to make determinations about players that inform his moves. “I like to call it knowledge more so than gut,” Rizzo said. I recommend reading the entire piece for an up-close look at the person who leads Washington’s baseball operations department.
- Derek Lowe and Eduardo Nunez helped the Yankees win a crucial game against the Blue Jays yesterday, but it wasn't long ago that Lowe was unemployed and Nunez was a minor leaguer, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.
Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels created a stir last night by admitting he hit Nationals rookie Bryce Harper intentionally. Though Harper didn’t publicly express frustration at being hit, GM Mike Rizzo fired back at Hamels this morning. The details and other NL East-related notes...
- Rizzo called Hamels' act the most "classless, gutless" thing he's seen in his career, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school,” Rizzo said. “He’s fake tough." I’d recommend reading Kilgore’s entire piece for the details.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports points out that Hamels won't be signing with the Nationals next offseason and writes that Rizzo will be lucky if he is not reprimanded for his comments.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com notes that there's "nothing doing" with respect to an extension for Hamels (Twitter link).
- Morosi expects Harper to stay in the Major Leagues for good, since he's played too well to be sent down to the minor leagues (video link).
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Rizzo's comments were an overreaction to legitimate old school play from Hamels (video link).
- Bill Ladson of MLB.com suggests the Nationals may make a trade instead of relying on Xavier Nady and Roger Bernadina in left field (Twitter link).
- Jim Callis of Baseball America hasn't given up on Phillies prospect Domonic Brown despite his struggles. Brown could still hit for a high average with 20 homers per season to go along with plus speed and arm strength, Callis writes.
Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that ticket sales are up this year and that he’s hoping “all the hype turns into reality.” Lerner weighed in on an assortment of Nationals-related topics; here are the details:
- Lerner said he doesn’t know or care how valuable the Nationals are. “It’s not something we’re ever going to get rid of,” he said.
- Though Stan Kasten isn’t prohibited from hiring Nationals employees, Lerner doesn’t expect the new Dodgers executive to lure Washington’s front office staff to Los Angeles. “Stan is an honorable man,” Lerner said. “He wouldn’t do that.”
- People close to GM Mike Rizzo say it’s doubtful he’d be willing to work under Kasten again. It’s unlikely that Rizzo would have as much autonomy working under his former boss.
- Rizzo signed a five-year extension following the 2010 season and Lerner said he hasn’t considered discussing another extension just yet. However, he praised his GM’s work and suggested a new deal will occur eventually. “When the time comes, I’m sure we’ll have discussions with Mike.”
- Lerner called the Gio Gonzalez trade a bold move that the Nationals couldn’t have made a year ago.