SEPTEMBER 26: Washington officially announced a “multi-year” extension for Martinez.
SEPTEMBER 25: The Nationals have agreed to a contract extension with manager Dave Martinez, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s a three-year, $7.5MM contract that will take effect in 2021, Bob Nightengale of USA Today was among those to tweet. His previous three-year contract was set to expire at season’s end, and the Nats had yet to formally make a call on Martinez’s 2021 club option or on a lengthier deal. The new contract will make quite the birthday present for Martinez, who turns 56 years old tomorrow.
Typically, clubs seek to avoid having a manager or general manager navigate a season with the dreaded “lame duck” status — i.e. no contract in place for the following year — but the Nationals have repeatedly bucked that trend by waiting until the eleventh hour to make decisions one way or another on both their managers and GMs. The Nats didn’t extend general manager Mike Rizzo, whose contract didn’t even have a 2021 option, until three weeks ago.
No club in baseball has had more managerial turnover in recent years than the Nationals, but it appears that last year’s World Series win will bring about the type of continuity this current generation of Nats players has yet to see. Martinez became the sixth man to manage a Nationals game in an eight-year span (2011-18) when he was hired, and since moving to D.C., the Nats have never had a skipper last more than three seasons on the job. The Lerner family opted to replace former skipper Dusty Baker even after Rizzo reportedly fought to keep him in place, and Baker only landed with the Nats after the club alienated Bud Black with a lowball, one-year offer when he had emerged as the favorite following the interview process.
Replacing Baker with Martinez, previously the Cubs’ bench coach, has worked out for the Nationals. Despite losing Bryce Harper to free agency before 2019, the Martinez-led club won 93 games and its first title. On the other hand, this year has been a struggle for the Nationals, who saw star third baseman Anthony Rendon leave in free agency and have gone almost entirely without injured World Series MVP-wining right-hander Stephen Strasburg. At 23-34, the Nationals won’t defend their title in this year’s playoffs, but that championship was understandably enough to convince the club that Martinez is the right person for the job. Along with their World Series win, Martinez has guided the Nats to a 198-183 regular-season record during his tenure in D.C.