The Washington Nationals, who have dramatically turned things around from last season and are on track for a 74-win season, have reached an agreement with manager Dave Martinez and are nearing a deal with President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo. According to the Athletic, the Nationals have extended Martinez for two seasons with a third-year option.
Washington has had an exhilarating season thus far, as they’ve won 11-of-16 series, recording three sweeps and five walk-off wins since May 4th. The Nationals are on track for 17 more wins this season than 2022 at their current overall pace — and even more than that if you go by their pace in the past 60-days. There are 37 remaining games in the regular season. Once a team nearing a complete rebuild, with new ownership rumored to be taken over just a year ago. the team moves forward with the same decision makes of Mark Lerner, Rizzo and Martinez. With a couple of beneficial trades and draft picks, the Nationals could be in playoff contention as early as next year with some key offseason moves.
Martinez, 58, is nearing the end of his sixth season in Washington that began in 2018. However, he’s in the last year of his current contract. Martinez started his Nationals tenure winning 82 games in 2018. The following year, he led the once 19-31 Nationals to the improbable 93-win team and eventual World Series Champions. However, after 2019, it went downhill, as the Nationals haven’t finished above .500 since 2019. The former MLB player has a 378-455 coaching record and has watched stars come and go. In the four seasons since the World Series win, the Nationals haven’t finished higher than fourth in the NL East and will likely miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive time this year.
Rizzo, 62, joined the Nationals in 2006 as assistant GM as the Lerner’s first hire, and was promoted to the team’s general manager in 2009. The Chicago native was promoted again in 2013 to president of the ball club. Rizzo played a big part in the Nationals’ success in the early 2010s and played a vital role in developing Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg among others.
Since the 2019 run, the Nationals have parted ways with several stars, with Anthony Rendon leaving in Free Agency while Max Scherzer, Trea Turner and Juan Soto were traded. Most notably, Stephen Strasburg hasn’t been able to pitch consistently since 2019 and has been injured on and off for the last four years. Along with the All-Star caliber players, the Nationals traded veterans Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester and Daniel Hudson. In return, the Nationals have kickstarted their rebuild with youngsters Keibert Ruizz, CJ Abrams, and MacKenzie Gore leading the way. You can’t forget about Josiah Gray and Lane Thomas, who are having great seasons and were acquired in trades.
Meanwhile, Washington has built a robust farm system with players like Brady House, Cade Cavalli, James Wood, Robert Hassell III, Jake Bennett, and Jackson Rutledge on track to play in D.C. next season. Along with the top of the farm system, the Nationals have drafted top prospects recently, with House, Elijah Green, and most recently, No.2 overall pick Dylan Crews looking to contribute in the near future. Keep in mind Green is on a slower pace than the rest noted above, but the hope is Green can add value for the Nationals soon.
The team is now shuffling in some former top prospects like Blake Rutherford, Carter Kieboom, and Jeter Downs. Unfortunately for Downs, his stay was not long, and it is now Kieboom’s turn to show he belongs as the two changed places on the active roster. This year is still a rebuild, and Rizzo has to see who he has to contribute towards next year’s team.
It’s clear the Nationals are on the right path, and with a few more offseason moves, the future is bright. The Nationals will start a nine-game road trip, beginning with facing the New York Yankees tomorrow night.