The Nationals announced that they have exercised the 2023 contract options of both president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez.
This concludes a bit of drama that has been surrounding the team in recent months. It was reported in May that both Rizzo and Martinez were in the final guaranteed years of their respective deals. Given that the club was mired in a roster teardown and that the Lerner family was exploring a possible sale of the club, it was certainly noteworthy that the team’s manager and primary front office member were both in lame duck status.
However, the organization has given itself a small bit more certainty about its future, with Rizzo and Martinez each locked in for at least one more season. Back in May, there were conflicting reports about Martinez’s salary for next year, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today placing it at $4MM, while Jon Heyman of the New York Post said $3.5MM. However, in reporting on today’s news, Nightengale used the $3.5MM figure. Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post relays that Martinez met with Lerner Sports COO Alan Gottlieb today, ahead of the July 15 deadline for the club to decide on both options.
Rizzo has overseen many different eras of Nationals’ baseball, having first been hired by the team in 2006. After many losing seasons, the club emerged as contenders in 2012 and stayed there for the remainder of that decade, making the playoffs five times and winning the World Series in 2019. However, their fortunes have slipped in recent years, which led to the club undergoing a massive selloff at last year’s trade deadline. That has unsurprisingly led to this season’s 29-50 record, better than only the Reds among National League teams. Martinez, on the other hand, was hired prior to the 2018 season and was at the helm of the team during competitive years, including the World Series victory. Now he has transitioned into overseeing a rebuild, with much of the roster composed of younger players auditioning to be part of the next core.
Despite the extra certainty afforded by these decisions, they also represent a kicking of the can down the road, in a sense. The same lame duck situation could still arise one year from now, unless contract extensions are worked out in the interim. The potential sale of the club still lingers in the air. Then there’s the Juan Soto situation, as the club’s superstar is slated to reach free agency after the 2024 season. Reporting in recent days has revealed that the potential of an extension is still in the cards, though Soto reportedly rejected a 13-year, $350MM offer before the lockout and some unknown, presumably-higher offer after it. That’s still a lot for the club to work out, though they’ve given themselves some time to work on it by knocking a couple of items off the to-do list.