Nats pick up 2023 options on Rizzo, Martinez

The Nationals formally picked up the 2023 contract options on general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Martinez today, ensuring both men will remain in their current positions for another season as the franchise potentially navigates its way through an ownership change.

Both Rizzo and Martinez signed extensions at the end of the 2020 season that included two guaranteed years and then club options for the third year. Those options were required to be picked up by July 15, so that meant resolutions in each case were forthcoming.

The timing also perhaps helped make the decisions to retain both men more logical. With the Lerner family exploring a sale of the franchise in what figures to be a lengthy process, the notion of making a GM and/or managerial change midseason would’ve complicated matters even more. As things now stand, there’s a chance a new owner would have ample opportunity to evaluate the state of the organization before making long-term decisions on Rizzo and Martinez at the end of the 2023 season.

Not that either of them is looking to leave anytime soon.

“For me, this my home,” Martinez said. “I love it here. I love the people I work with here, from up to down.”

Rizzo first joined the organization in 2006 as assistant GM, then ascended to the top position in 2009 after Jim Bowden resigned. One of the longest-tenured executives in the sport, the 61-year-old led the organization through its first rebuild, then four division titles in six years, then its first World Series title in 2019 and now another rebuild that began with the trades of eight veterans at last summer’s deadline.

Martinez is the Nationals’ sixth manager under Rizzo’s tenure, the first to hold his job for more than 2 1/2 seasons and now under contract through 2023, which would be his sixth season at the helm.

“I couldn’t see myself doing this without Riz, really,” Martinez said. “He’s guided me through my first year here, through thick and thin. He’s like a brother to me. We have a lot of tough conversations, some good, some not so good. But we understand what we’re trying to do, so it’s a lot of fun. And I appreciate everything he does, I really do. He works his tail off. And we want to get better.”

The Nationals enter today’s game against the Marlins with a 29-50 record, second-worst in the National League. Since July 1, 2021, they are 54-109, the worst record in the majors.

But last summer’s decision to embark on the rebuild all but ensured short-term struggles in exchange for the possibility of long-term success. That has required something of a shift in mindset among the organization’s leaders, who at times have needed to prioritize the development of young players over the desire to win big league games right now.

“It is only right to continue with them at the forefront,” managing principal owner Mark Lerner said in a statement. “Mike has led us through many different phases of our organization, and we believe his work during this current phase will pay off in the end. Davey has done a tremendous job in the clubhouse and in the dugout for five seasons. His continued determination and unwavering support of his players makes us proud. We are lucky to have Mike and Davey leading the way.”

Martinez, 57, owns a 295-330 record as Nationals manager, with only the one postseason appearance in 2019. He remains beloved by players and others who work for the club for the relationships he’s built off the field.

That loyalty also extends to the coaching staff, which Martinez revealed today all received two-year deals when they were hired.

“For me, it was important when we hired the coaches that they all got a two-year deal, so they’re all going to be around here, as well,” he said. “That’s kind of nice. These guys, they work hard every single day to get these guys better. I see it. They’re very positive. I know our players appreciate them very much. It’s a very close group of guys.”

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