The Nationals’ recent turnaround on the field appears to have convinced ownership to address the biggest off-the-field issue that has been looming over the club all summer: Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo are getting new contracts.
Martinez has already agreed to a two-year deal that includes a third-year option, and Rizzo is close to finalizing a deal of similar length, a source familiar with the terms confirmed. The Athletic was first to report the news.
Both Martinez and Rizzo were working under contracts set to expire at season’s end, the club having previously picked up their 2023 options last summer. The uncertain status of the Lerner family’s attempt to sell the franchise left the fates of its longtime manager and general manager in limbo, but with the clock ticking and no evidence a sale is imminent, it increasingly felt like a foregone conclusion both would be brought back.
The Nationals’ recent on-field performance, both at the big league and minor league levels, only bolstered the cases for both Martinez and Rizzo. The major league team has won seven of its last nine series, five of those against playoff contenders, and is 23-14 since July 8, the third-best record in the National League during that span.
A farm system that has been overhauled in the last 24 months both via major trades and the draft, meanwhile, now ranks as the sport’s eighth-best after consistently ranking near the bottom for several years. Recent first-round pick Dylan Crews was just promoted to Double-A Harrisburg after dominating in 14 games at Single-A Fredericksburg, and he’ll now join fellow top prospects James Wood, Brady House and Robert Hassell III in a potent Senators lineup, all four of them potentially ready to debut in Washington sometime next season.
Hired in 2018, Martinez has brought long-sought stability to a manager’s office that experienced constant change through the franchise’s first decade-plus in D.C. None of the Nats’ previous six managers so much as survived three full seasons in the job, but Martinez, 58, is currently in his sixth season and is now signed through at least an eighth season in 2025.
Martinez’s .454 winning percentage doesn’t turn heads, but his 378 wins are most in club history, and he was largely credited with keeping a struggling 2019 clubhouse together through a 19-31 start and ultimately leading that team to its first World Series title.
The trades of stars Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell and others, the retirements of stalwarts Ryan Zimmerman and Howie Kendrick and the injury woes of Stephen Strasburg decimated the roster and prompted Rizzo to embark on a full-scale rebuild in 2021-22. Even in the wake of those changes, Martinez is consistently praised for fostering a positive clubhouse environment and a team that always seemed to battle to the final out even if the ultimate result was defeat.
Terms of Martinez’s new deal aren’t yet known, but he is making $3.5 million this season. His original deal was for three years and $2.8 million, and the club gave him a new two-year deal with a third-year option prior to the 2021 season.
Rizzo was first hired by the Nationals in 2006 as assistant GM, then was promoted to the GM position in 2009 following Jim Bowden’s resignation. The 62-year-old with an extensive scouting background signed four separate contract extensions after that, ultimately receiving a salary commensurate with most of the sport’s top-paid GMs (in excess of $4 million per year).
Though Rizzo and the organization are currently working towards another deal that will keep him here beyond this season, it is not yet finalized, according to the source.