Nationals officially exercise Mike Rizzo’s option for 2014

(Alex Brandon/AP)

(Alex Brandon/AP)

As expected, Nationals ownership took an immediate step to ensuring General Manager Mike Rizzo remains with the organization. After their intentions to exercise a team option on Rizzo’s contract for the 2014 season were made public earlier this month, the move was made official, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Both sides continue to discuss a long-term extension.

Rizzo, 52, signed a contract following the 2010 season that guaranteed him three years and included two additional years with team options for ’14 and ’15. The Nationals tacked on the title of executive vice president to his ledger and announced the contract as a five-year extension. The actual terms of the deal were not made public until The Post reported it last year.

MLB.com’s Nationals affiliate reported news of the official option pick-up on Thursday. The Washington Times first reported the team’s intention to pick up his option earlier this month.

Under Rizzo’s leadership, the Nationals have transformed, going from from losing 298 games over three years to claiming the 2012 National League East title with a 98-win season.

When Rizzo signed his current deal, he was signing his first contract as a general manager. He will have significantly more bargaining power if the Nationals, as Principal Owner Mark Lerner indicated this offseason, plan to keep him in Washington long-term. Should the Nationals not lock up Rizzo, several teams are sure to be interested in his services.

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