Highlights from Rizzo's end-of-season media session

NEW YORK – Mike Rizzo held court with reporters for 20 minutes prior to Tuesday’s doubleheader at Citi Field, offering up something of a season wrap-up. The longtime general manager oversaw the worst season in club history, one that included not only more than 100 losses but the Aug. 2 trade of superstar Juan Soto to the Padres in the final teardown of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series roster.

Rizzo was asked questions on a wide variety of topics, from the big picture to individual players and manager Davey Martinez. We’ll be including many of his answers over the next week as we wrap up the season, but here are some highlights from Rizzo’s session …

On the season’s results vs. progress made:
“I think you have to look at the big picture. I look at the season as a disappointment. I’ve always said that you are what your record says you are, and our record says we’re the worst team in the league right now. And it’s hard to argue with that. But the flip side of that is, we’re in a process. And the process is tried and true. We’ve done it before. Not a lot of teams can say that. And the process is moving forward, and it’s ongoing and I think it’s a productive process.”

On his approach to this offseason:
“We’re going to attack it. First of all, we’re going to do an autopsy of the organization after the season to see where we’re at. We’ll have a discussion with ownership to see where our parameters are. But suffice to say that we’re not comfortable with losing 100-plus games, and that’s something that I want to avoid again in the near future. We’re going to put together an offseason that we’re going to be aggressively attacking the free agent market, the trade market, the international market and any other market that helps us acquire impactful players that helps us get better soon.”

On how those parameters could change if the team is sold:
“Well, of course it could change if they sell the team. I think that would change. So I’m going to control what I can control. We’re in business as usual. We’re going to go through the end of the regular season and do our postseason work and try to explore every way to get better. We’ll get our marching orders and our direction from above when we get them. We’ll employ those directions. But until then, it’s business as usual, like we’ve done every year.” 

On expectations for Stephen Strasburg in 2023:
“I don’t know. That’s a good question. It’s still a little bit of a mystery. I know that he’s working hard, strengthening his core and the other parts of his body. We’re just going to have to see with the type of surgery and rehab that he’s had, it’s unfamiliar to us – it’s unfamiliar to a lot of people – and we’re just going to have to take it day by day. It’s something that I know Stras is working extremely hard in doing what he can do, and then we’ll have to see where the rehab process takes later on in the winter. We’re going to monitor him – and he’s local, so we’ll see him all the time – and we’ll see where he’s at going into spring training mode.”

On Patrick Corbin:
“I see him as a starter for us next year. He takes the ball every fifth day. His stuff was good, his velocity of his fastball was good, his spin rate was good. I think his last seven or eight starts were, I think, more indicative of who he’s going to be next year than his previous starts. I think that the defense we put behind him is going to help him through his bottom line next year. But I give the guy credit: He answered questions every day, he took the ball every five days and he’s a pro. And I think he’s going to come back with a little chip on his shoulder next year and try to prove a lot of naysayers wrong. I think that he’ll get closer to the 2018 and ‘19 Patrick Corbin that we’ve seen in the past.”

On Joey Meneses:
“Well, you’ve got to give a tip to the cap to Joey. I mean, here’s a guy who has grinded it out in a lot of different places. Got his opportunity in the big leagues and has done well with it. I think that when you evaluate a player, I think you evaluate his skill set and his tool set. I think that Joey, looking at him, I think he has all the ingredients and the skill set to be a good hitter in the big leagues. He’s a guy who controls the strike zone pretty well, hits offspeed pitches as good as any rookie that has come up. And I think has made at least one round of adjustments since he’s been here, and now is going to have to make another next year. But I like what I’ve seen. He’s got a calm, cool demeanor about him. I don’t think he’s overwhelmed by the early success that he’s had. And he understands that nothing is given. Nothing is handed to him, and he probably knows that better than anyone being in the minor leagues for so long. We’ve met with him, he knows that he has to come to spring training with a renewed zest and have a good offseason. We’ve got a specific offseason plan for him to follow, and when he comes here next February to spring training, hit the ground running.”

On Carter Kieboom:
“Yeah, he’s going to compete for the third base job. All the reports are that with the Tommy John surgery, he should be good to go in spring training. I’ve seen him down in Florida in my stops down there several times, and he knows what he has to do in the offseason to get better, to come to spring training ready to go.”

On 2021 first round pick Brady House, who went on the IL in mid-June with a back injury and never returned:
“Well, he didn’t come back and play in any games. But he’s doing baseball activities, and we’re expecting him to be good to go for minor league spring training next year.”

On his concern about such a young player having a back issue:
“You know, having a back issue myself, it doesn’t feel good, I know that. But I think that he’s doing well in his rehab, and I think he’s well on his way to getting back on the field in spring training and being ready to go.”

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