Official: Mike Rizzo’s contract is extended in a multi-year deal

All of the rumors of cutting staff that led some to believe that Mike Rizzo was leaving the Washington Nationals organization were just more of the unsubstantiated rumors that were proven inaccurate as the team announced, before business opened today, that the Nats have extended Rizzo’s contract in another multi-year deal.

One part of the front office restructuring that was not addressed, beyond Rizzo saying last week that Asst. GM Johnny DiPuglia and the team mutually agreed to his departure, is how the international scouting operations will function going forward. We should find out in time. The Nats have been very active in scouting and signing international free agents for years in Latin American countries. The issue is that in all of the years of signing players, and especially at the top of the bonuses paid, the Nats have only had one international signing that has turned into an All-Star, and that is with Juan Soto. The previous failures were so troubling with the Nationals prospect Carlos Alvarez — formerly known as Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez that the Nats parted ways with their first general manager Jim Bowden. While there was no scandal this time, it was time for a change per sources.

As is normal with front office and managerial contracts, those terms are not made public. Rizzo was rumored to be in the Top-5 highest compensated executives during his last contract, but with David Stearns deal yesterday with the Mets, and other deals made since Rizzo’s last contract, it is hard to say how that ranks today. Suffice it to say that if Rizzo signed his deal, he is happy after negotiations took weeks to get done. We broke news that the delay was due to Rizzo wanting more years than ownership was willing to give. Almost three weeks ago, Bob Nightengale of USA Today said this was a done deal which was not officially the case.

Rizzo will turn 63 at the end of this year and was the first employee hired by the Lerner ownership group when they officially bought the team in the mid-season of 2006 from Major League Baseball. Rizzo is in his 15th year as the head of Nationals baseball operations, and he self-described that this rebuild, the second of his career, started in July 2021. The Rebuild 2.0 is ahead of schedule, and several times Rizzo said he wanted to see this through. With this new extension, he will get that opportunity.

“Mike and I have talked and worked with each other almost daily for 17 years. Together with my family and the entire Nationals staff, we’ve always shared the same dream: to make the Washington Nationals a team that our fans could love and be proud of. We have all worked collectively to build what was essentially an expansion team with no Major League depth into a contender, and then into a World Series champion. We’ve experienced some tough losing seasons and we’ve hung championship banners, and we’ve done it all together.

“We are once again hard at work to build a championship contender in D.C. We now believe we have the beginnings of a roster filled with promising young players and exciting prospects at nearly every position. While we once talked about winning World Series rings for our baseball-loving fathers, Mike’s family and ours now look forward to winning even more rings for our children and grandchildren — and, of course, for every other Nationals-loving fan and family everywhere. We are excited about our future.”

— Washington Nationals Managing Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner said

With Rizzo’s 2019 World Series championship, four NL East titles, and a wild card on his extensive executive record, he has real success and a long history with the Nats that is longer than any singular executive with one team except Brian Cashman with the Yankees, and John Mozeliak of the Cardinals. None of these teams coincidentally will make the postseason this year, and the Yankees are only one game over .500 while the Nats actually have a better record today than the Cardinals. You might think the future is brightest for the Nationals. Rizzo certainly thinks so.

“I love being part of the Washington Nationals organization. Nearly 17 years ago, Ted Lerner and his family asked me to help build the Nats into a winning team. Together, we managed to find success within just a few years, winning multiple divisional titles and, ultimately, bringing D.C. its first World Series championship since 1924.

“It has been a pleasure to work alongside ownership as we put the pieces together for our initial team build-up and run. Now, we believe we are developing the next generation of contenders and champions. We deeply believe in our process and in our progress. The next few years are going to be ones no Nationals fan will want to miss. My family and I want to thank the Lerner, Cohen and Tanenbaum families, Alan Gottlieb and Nationals management for their trust and commitment to winning another World Series. I am excited to be a part of that commitment.”

— Rizzo said in a statement

Next year marks the 100 year anniversary of the first baseball championship in Washington, D.C. and until the Nats won in 2019, it seemed like it might never happen. Now you want another because winning is the goal. All of the other noise is just noise.

Rizzo had said a week ago on 106.7 radio, “Definitely, this has been my home for 17 years. … I plan to be here a long time beyond that. … I’m happy here. … I certainly want to be part of the next championship club.”

“I have never seen our ownership group, Mark [Lerner] especially, more engaged and more focused on this baseball team and winning another championship then they are right now.”

“The narrative that they got one-foot in and one-foot out, could not be in my world, could not be more over-blown and miss-characterized.”

“Because believe me, he’s into it. They’re all into it. They watch every game, every inning, every pitch, and I know this for a fact.”

“They are extremely focused in on bringing us another World Championship and I think they are, in my mind, that they are never been more focused on being here and owning this team and winning then right now.”

— Mike Rizzo said on the Junkies Radio show on 106.7 FM this morning

Rizzo’s extension always seemed to be a matter of when it would be signed, and not if it would be signed. Done deal and move forward, there is a lot of work to be done to get to that next championship.

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