Washington Nationals: Extending Mike Rizzo a genius move

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: General manager Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals talks to the media after a 5-1 victory against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park on September 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: General manager Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals talks to the media after a 5-1 victory against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park on September 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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The popular general manager will stay with the Washington Nationals through 2020. Now the team can focus building for the future.

The Washington Nationals made major strides ensuring their future Friday by extending Mike Rizzo.

Rizzo, Washington’s President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, signed a contract extension keeping him with the club through the 2020 season. He became the GM in 2009 and assumed the Presidential role in 2013. His new deal runs through the same season as the new manager Dave Martinez.

That is not a coincidence. The success or failure of Martinez determines Rizzo’s future. For the Lerner family, the ownership, it makes perfect sense.

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With the ominous caveat out of the way, this is great news.

Unlike with Dusty Baker’s situation last fall, Washington approaches the end of the decade with stability. Rizzo has three seasons, instead of one, to either win a World Series or a National League pennant. As long as the Nats advance, he is fine.

Players love Rizzo. Bryce Harper loves Rizzo. Something about a contract extension comes to mind here for the right fielder.

Seriously, Rizzo’s extension is a good sign for Harper fans that a deal could happen keeping the 2015 NL MVP in Washington past this year. Rizzo carries a strong relationship with Scott Boras, Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon’s agent among others.

If the Nats were ready to walk away from Harper, changing general managers as free agency starts is a good way to send the slugger packing to Chicago.

Washington has decisions to make this year over Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez. Rizzo brought both to DC. He has a good idea how much longer he wants them in town.

Then, you have Rendon, Tanner Roark hitting free agency after next year and Trea Turner starting with arbitration. Do the Nats buy out Turner’s arbitration years and a free agency season? Will Rendon get the long-term extension he deserves?

Those are the pressing issues facing Washington regardless of Harper’s decision. Rizzo is the right person to guide the Nats through them. Four NL East titles in six seasons speaks volumes.

With Victor Robles, Erick Fedde and Juan Soto on the cusp of joining the team, the drafting and scouting under Rizzo is about to pay off a second time. He has done what he can to ensure the championship window stays open if Harper takes his talents elsewhere.

Yes, Washington changes managers. However, the true stability is in the front office. Rizzo started as an assistant in 2007 and will be in his 14th season in 2020. Since replacing Jim Bowden as GM, only the Los Angeles Dodgers have a higher winning percentage in the NL.

Next: Mets open Nats home sked

Celebrate now. Build for a stronger future. Washington did the right thing.

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