Rizzo indicated he will listen to Johnson, who will become a senior advisor at the end of the year. “Of course we will,” Rizzo said. “It’d be a resource I’d be foolish not to tap into.” But he will not be as open to feedback from players.
“I don’t think that’s a place for the players to dabble in,” Rizzo said. “It’s an organizational decision, and it’s got to be an organizational fit.”
Werth has been an influential figure since he signed a seven-year, $126 million contract before the 2011 season. He understood his voice may not be heard in the decision to choose the next manager, but he wanted to have a say.
“I would hope,” Werth said. “Not only am I going to be here, but I’ve got the most experience playing on the team. I would think my opinion matters. But I know that it doesn’t. I know better than to think that it does. I really don’t have a sense of what the organization is thinking. It doesn’t seem like the search has started. I think once the season ends, you get a sense of who the candidates are.”
Once the Nationals decide on a manager, Rizzo and his staff can move to the rest of their offseason tasks. After watching the Nationals reel off a 31-15 stretch since mid-August, he believes the core should remain largely intact — but he would not rule out any moves.
“We’re going to look to obviously better ourselves in any way we can,” Rizzo said. “But just looking at an overview, we’ll probably look to improve the bullpen, see if we can improve the bench a little bit. And any other way that we can improve the everyday lineup, if there’s any way we can do that, we’ll certainly look into that also.”
The Nationals may look to secure Zimmermann and Desmond, two homegrown players who have two seasons left before they reach free agency. The Nationals have broached the idea of a contract with both players before, and it could happen again this winter.
“Desi is one of our core players,” Rizzo said. “He’s one of our leaders on the team. If there’s a deal out there that we can get done that keeps him here for the long term, it would be certainly up there on the priority list. It’s going to be a deal that would have to work for both parties.”
Zimmermann is “one of our own,” Rizzo said. “We drafted, developed and signed him. He’s one of the really good pitchers in the league. We’d certainly like to keep him on our team.”
Nats notes: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will start Sunday’s season finale. He called pitching Johnson’s last game “truly an honor.” . . . LaRoche sat Saturday night, and will sit again Sunday, with biceps tendinitis.