Nationals ownership will soon take the first step in securing General Manager Mike Rizzo’s future with the organization by exercising the team option in his contract for the 2014 season, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Rizzo, 52, signed a contract following the 2010 season that guaranteed him three years and included two additional years with team options. The Nationals added 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.
Rizzo declined to comment on his contract status. The Washington Times first reported the team’s intention to pick up his option.
Under Rizzo’s watch, 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 during spring training, plan to keep him in Washington long-term.
“I’m sure we’ll all sit down and talk when the time is right,” Lerner said during spring training. “He’s under control for a couple more years [of team options], and I think this is the place where he wants to make his home, and we certainly want him to be here. So I’m sure we’ll come to some understanding at some point in time.”
This past winter, zero teams changed general managers, which is unlikely to happen again. So if the Nationals do not lock up Rizzo, there could be several franchises willing to vie for his services.