An hour after the Washington Nationals announced that Mike Rizzo agreed to a multi-year contract extension, the general manager and president of baseball operations joined 106.7 The Fan for his weekly appearance Wednesday with The Sports Junkies, which is presented exclusively by our partners at MainStreet Bank — Cheer Local. Bank Local. Put Our Team in Your Office.
The negotiations seemingly took a bit of time after manager Dave Martinez signed an extension on Aug. 22. But Rizzo, who told the Junkies last Wednesday that he "definitely" wanted to remain in D.C., there was an air of inevitability.
“There was always an understanding [a deal would happen]," Rizzo told The Junkies. "I was always optimistic and confident that the thing was going to get done. I had always told [owner] Mark Lerner and [COO] Alan Gottlieb, who I was discussing it with, they had never wavered in the fact that I was gonna be the guy. But we just never had the chance, we were just so busy, it was such a busy time we never had the chance to sit down and kind of map out and grind out the numbers.
"And we finally did that last week and it took a very, very short amount of time. My focus and my goal was on the season and I thought that going into the season it was way more important for that clubhouse and for team chemistry and that type of thing for Davey to get his deal done, that was my concern and that was my focus. I wanted to get Davey's deal done and when ownership signed off on that and we began to negotiate that, Davey and I and his agent, then I was very happy that we got Davey done.
"I felt all along that I was gonna get mine done in due time when the time was right and the time was right last week and we got it done."
Details of the extension were not yet released, but Rizzo indicated to the Junkies that the deal will be in the neighborhood of a three-year extension. In a statement announcing the extension, Rizzo said that he loves being a part of the organization for 17 years and helping bring Washington their first World Series 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," Rizzo's statement said. "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.”
When Rizzo was asked by the Junkies on Wednesday about the ownership as it relates to their potential sale of the team and if he believes that if he wanted to sign a big free agent would the money be there, the newly extended GM said he has never seen the ownership group "more engaged and focused in on this baseball team and winning another championship than they are right now."
"The narrative that they got one foot in and one foot out, I couldn't – in my world – be more overblown and mischaracterized," Rizzo told The Fan. "Believe me, [Mark's] into it, they're all into it they watch every game, every inning, every pitch, I know this for a fact. And they're extremely focused in on bringing us another world championship and in my mind they've never been more focused on being here and owning this team and winning than they are right now."
On last week's moves that saw a large organizational restructuring with scouts in the front office being let go, Rizzo said it was normal changes for this time of year in the baseball calendar and was about "how to be more effective as an organization."
"Our main objective is to balance out the staff, how to get the most bang for our buck?" he said, adding there were large investments in brainpower and technology. "Try to strike that balance between the eyes of the scout and the baseball guy and the technological aspect that will help us develop and help us scout."
Owner Mark Lerner said in a statement announcing the extension that the Lerner family is excited about the future.
“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,” Lerner said in a statement. “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.”
Rizzo joined the organization as an assistant general manager in 2006 before being named the GM in 2009 and adding president of baseball operations to his title in Aug. 2013. Since the start of 2009, the Nationals are 1,149-1,161 (.497 record) but have a .516 winning percentage since 2012.