Mike Rizzo: The brilliant grinch


Oct 3, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals general manger Mike Rizzo on the field before game one of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

If anyone doubted why the Blue Jays are interested in Mike Rizzo, the Nationals GM and president of baseball operations, to become their new team president and CEO, let Wednesday night’s reported three-team trade between Tampa Bay, San Diego, and Washington open your eyes: this guy is good.

Somehow, in an 11-player deal where I wondered why Washington was a part of to begin with, Rizzo came away with two prospects in SS Trea Turner and RHP Joe Ross that are reportedly the best prospects involved in this trade and provide a possible replacement for Ian Desmond if an extension can’t be worked out. If Turner’s arm strength becomes an issue, as Ken Rosenthal reports, there’s still that gaping hole at second that needs to be filled and that no one considers Danny Espinosa a legitimate possibility.

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The Nationals entered this offseason with plenty of questions, especially in regards to the many veterans playing out the final year of their respective contracts. In a list that sounds a little like the beginning to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, you know Desmond, and Clippard, and Fister, and J-Zimm, there’s not a day that goes by that some Nationals rumor isn’t being circulated: Desmond to Seattle but not for Taijuan Walker or add Zimmermann to the mix and include Brad Miller; jettison Zimmerman and speed dial Scott Boras because we’re bringing Max Scherzer to town.

Rizzo’s biggest move of the offseason prior to Wednesday night was ridding the team of Ross Detwiler, a one-time starter turned reliever who brought the spirit of giving to the ballpark seemingly nightly last season.

Needless to say, I was confused early last night. Wil Myers traded? The Nats ship out Stephen Souza? The player who saved the first no-hitter in Nationals team history is gone before another regular season game.

Let’s relive that catch one more time. It’s that good.

Rizzo doesn’t believe in sentimentality. He’s like the John Kreese of the baseball world. In a bizzaro turn of events, the two players most remembered for that no-hitter could be gone before Opening Day 2015. Who saw that coming?

I hate to overstate this. No. Not really. I don’t hate it. I probably shouldn’t gush over this trade because we’re discussing two prospects, one of whom in Turner who can’t be officially traded until this coming June since rules state he has to be in the Padres organization for a full year, but it’s remarkable how Rizzo took an area where the Nats had depth either on the current roster (Bryce Harper), in the minors (Michael Taylor), or where they’re sort of financially stuck (Jayson Werth) and turned into young, cost-controlled players that have the potential to be solid Major League contributors. That even discounts the possibility of re-signing Denard Span at a reasonable deal, which at this rate I’m certain Rizzo could convince Span to play for the veteran minimum just because D.C. is beautiful in the spring.

I’ve read reports where Joe Ross, obligatory mention that he’s Padres starter Tyson Ross’ brother, projects to be a mid-rotation starter, and that’s just fine with me. The Nationals had pretty good returns on another starter (ahem, Tanner Roark) that wasn’t projected to be in the 3 fWAR range last season. Collect those arms, Mr. Rizzo. A team that ranked first in the Majors in fWAR, ERA, FIP, etc. could always use more.

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I’m sad to see Souza go. I’m a fan. I have that luxury to pick favorites. Of course, if there’s a trade that involves either Anthony Rendon or Roark I might just camp outside Nationals Park and yell until escorted away. Rizzo, however, proves that he’s a cold, heartless, unsentimental genius. Only because it’s true, this is how I imagine Rizzo discusses deals with his colleagues.

I’m glad he’s our GM.