Washington Nationals bring on the experienced executive to help with the international market. De Jon Watson is a potential GM.
The Washington Nationals bolstered their front office on Friday signing De Jon Watson to assist General Manager Mike Rizzo. It is thought Watson will assist in the scouting department, particularly in international areas.
Watson, a 31-year veteran of Major League Baseball’s front office’s, was the senior vice president of baseball operations with the Arizona Diamondbacks the last two seasons. Along with their general manager Dave Stewart, his contract was not renewed after the year ended.
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Before his run in Phoenix, he spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians as director of scouting and as a scout with the Cincinnati Reds and Florida Marlins. An impressive resume.
The expectation is he will be the primary guy as the Nats pursue international players. However, with the D-Backs, he helped draft shortstop Dansby Swanson. Watson helped trade Swanson to the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller.
After two years of intense dysfunction with Stewart and Tony La Russa from above, the Nats are a breath of fresh air. With Pedro Severino and Wilmer Difo already on the major league roster, Washington has in recent times signed and developed foreign-born prospects. Watson’s focus will be to develop that bond further.
As the team continues their run of success, their draft position falls. Long gone are the days of having the first selection of the draft with Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg falling in their lap. Although the first-round pick is not as crucial as it is in other sports, the Nats restock their system from the back end of every round.
Watson, with his experience, gives an edge to the Nationals in finding those overseas diamonds in the rough who are not subject to the draft, but a free agent contract. He was part of the Dodgers aggressive international efforts and helped land Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Lopez from Cuba, the next big baseball market.
With assistant general manager from his time with the Dodgers on his resume, there is a chance he is auditioning for the big role if Rizzo leaves, either by choice or not. With his vast experience in the scouting rooms and ballfields of America and beyond, Watson brings a value of expertise to Washington that is hard to find.
Eager to shed the disappointment from his two years with the D-Backs, Watson has the chance to build a Nats team for the future that is affordable and successful. As of now, 17 players on the 40-man roster are homegrown. To meet the budget needs for the team, the Nationals continue to stay around 17-20 from within.