Results tagged ‘ Mike Rizzo ’

Nats’ Rizzo ready for the Draft

Monday is the day that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo calls his Super Bowl. Rizzo and his staff will be working on selecting the best player in the First-Year Player Draft.

Unlike the previous three years, the team will not have a top 10 pick in the Draft. Instead they will have the 16th overall pick. Since the 2007 season, the organization is known to stack the Minor League system with pitching.

Rizzo said he has an opinion on about 35 to 40 players that he has scouted this year.

“It’s a lot less clearer in the type of player we are going to get,” Rizzo said. “It’s hard to plan, but … we have done all the backgrounds and all the work on 1,100 players in the Draft. We are going to rank them –one to 100 – and we are going to take the best player available, like we always do.”

In the past, the Nationals had an idea how much money they were going to spend. As recently as last year, they were known to go higher than the recommended slot for paying their top Draft picks, but that will change starting this year because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Under the CBA, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team’s selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a future first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a future first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

Rizzo indicated the new agreement would not impact the Nationals.

“It hasn’t impacted us one bit,” Rizzo said. “We are going to take it like we always have. We are going to put the board together – ability-based – and we will do our due diligence on the health, makeup, signability on all the players. We are going to pull the trigger and pick the best player available.

“The constrictions that you have on the amount of money that you can spend will certainly change in the way we have done business in the past. Again, it comes down to getting the right player in each of the right slots.”

Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Nats extend working agreements with four Minor League affiliates

The Nationals have agreed on two-year player development contract extensions (2013-14) with Triple-A Syracuse, Double A Harrisburg, Class A Potomac and Class A Auburn on Friday.

The Syracuse Chiefs entered the International League in 1885 and have been a continuous member of the IL since 1961. Since becoming the Nationals’ top affiliate in 2009, the Chiefs are 215-212 (.504).

The Harrisburg Senators entered the Eastern League in 1987 and have been an affiliate of the Nationals franchise since signing on with the Montreal Expos in 1991. The Senators have reached the post-season each of the last two seasons and, at 300-268 (.528), are 32 games above .500 the last four seasons.

A Nationals affiliate since 2005, Potomac joined the Carolina League in 1984. Potomac has posted a stellar 368-324 (.532) record beginning in 2007. The P-Nats have reached the playoffs three times in the last four seasons and twice (2008, ’10) won the Mills Cup, which is awarded annually to the Carolina League champions.

In its first season in Washington’s chain, Auburn went 45-30 (.600) and claimed a Pinckney Division title before losing in the New York-Penn League Championship series.

“We could not be more pleased to make this commitment,” Rizzo said. “To make this announcement so early in the season speaks to how much we value our relationships and the environments cultivated by the good people in Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac and Auburn. We take our affiliate relations very seriously in Washington. They are a vital part of our family and we know that with time, these bonds will only strengthen.”

[Update] Nats, Zimmerman agree to contract extension

The Nationals and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman have agreed to terms on six-year $100 million extension with a full no-trade clause. There is also a club option for $18 million. A press conference is expected to be held later today at Space Coast Stadium.

Zimmerman is one of six players –Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun 2020, Matt Kemp are the others — signed through 2019.

The team had until the end of Saturday to get a deal done with Zimmerman, who hinted on Friday afternoon that he wanted a no-trade clause in his contract. Zimmerman has two years left on his current deal worth $26 million.

“It’s a relief. It’s a lot of stuff to work out. It’s a big commitment. Things like that don’t get done quickly,” Zimmerman said before having his press conference. “Both sides worked tirelessly to get this stuff done. Now, we don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

On Saturday night, general manager Mike Rizzo said there were no major stumbling blocks to complete a deal.

“We don’t have a deal done yet, but we have made significant progress,” Rizzo said Saturday. “We feel good about it and optimistic that we can reach an agreement, but there are some small details that we have to iron out through tonight and tomorrow.

“Hopefully, tomorrow, [by] the time we see [members of the media], we’ll have something more concrete to announce. But we feel good and optimistic that Zim is going to be a Washington National for a very, very long time.”

Zimmerman is considered the face of the franchise. He was selected in the first round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft and became the most popular player in franchise history. In six years, he has won two silver slugger awards, a gold glove and made one All-Star appearance.

“Zim has been our centerpiece since he came up to the big leagues. He was our top prospect,” reliever Tyler Clippard said. “And when I got here, he was the man. I think it’s important to an organization to show loyalty to a guy that has been loyal to them and has done so many things for the organization on and off the field. It’s just says a lot about what kind management we have and the direction that we are going.”

Said Shortstop Ian Desmond, “It’s just another indication that organization is moving in the right direction. … To see Zim happy at home and not have to work about that anymore, it’s going to be nice. It’s good that the deal got done. It’s kind of a good faith-type thing. I think it would have gotten ugly if the deal didn’t get done. I’m happy for him. We definitely need him.”

Zimmerman originally had a self-imposed deadline of 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday. Zimmerman said he didn’t want to talk about his contract after that day, for he didn’t want to become a distraction to the team.

Around 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, Zimmerman told the media that his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, had come up with a creative solution to bridge the gap between the two sides. Zimmerman then said he wanted the deal to be done by the end of Saturday.

“Both sides are working to try to get over the last … couple of hurdles,” Zimmerman said. “We are both trying to be creative. It will be either yes or no, today. We’ll have closure either way. It’s something to ensure me that I will be here because that’s the reason I’m signing the deal. That’s basically the only thing left.

“Like I said all along, we can concentrate on baseball and not have you guys [the media] worry about it anymore and — more importantly — my teammates and myself.”

Van Wagenen was seen talking to Rizzo at the Nationals’ Spring Training complex on Wednesday. The two sides also talked Thursday and Friday without coming close to a deal.

Zimmerman is coming off an injury-plagued 2011 season in which he hit .289 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs across 101 games. He missed significant time because of an abdominal injury.

Van Wagenen and the Nationals have been in serious discussions about an extension for Zimmerman since the Winter Meetings last December.

“We have made significant progress on an extension for Ryan that would ensure he plays for the Nationals for a long time, which has always been Ryan’s goal,” Van Wagenen said in a statement. “We are working on a structure that will allow the team to continue to add talent and establish a winner which is another goal of Ryan’s.

“While there are still important aspects to work through, we bridged multiple important gaps on many major parts of a contract. Nothing is done until it is done, but both sides are optimistic that an agreement can be reached and Ryan can focus his energies on preparing with his teammates for the season.”

Nationals, Zimmerman still talking contract extension

The Nationals are still trying to reach an agreement with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on a contract extension. Zimmerman had a self imposed deadline of 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday to get a deal done.

However, the team now has until the end of the day to get a deal done with Zimmerman, who hinted once again that he wants a no-trade clause in his contract. Zimmerman has two years left on his current contract.

“We’ve gone back and we’ve given them one other creative solution to bridge this gap,” Zimmerman said. “Today is the day, Saturday. It’s either going to get done or it’s not going to get done. Both sides are working to try to get over the last … couple of hurdles. We are both trying to be creative. It will be either yes or no, today. We’ll have closure either way.

“It’s something to ensure me that I will be here because that’s the reason I’m signing the deal. That’s basically the only thing left.”

Zimmerman said he doesn’t want to talk about his contract after Saturday because he doesn’t want to become a distraction to the team.

“Like I said all along, we can concentrate on baseball and not have you guys [the media] worry about it anymore and — more importantly – my teammates and myself,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, was seen talking to general manager Mike Rizzo at the Nationals’ Spring Training complex on Wednesday. The two sides also talked Thursday and Friday without coming close to a deal.

Zimmerman is coming off an injury-plagued 2011 season in which he hit .289 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs across 101 games. He missed significant time because of an abdominal injury.

Van Wagenen and the Nationals have been in serious discussions about an extension for Zimmerman since the Winter Meetings last December.

“We are still working toward an agreement,” Rizzo said. “We don’t have an agreement at this time. We’ve come a long way and bridged a big gap from the beginning [of the negotiations] to where we are currently, but we are not there yet. This is a very complicated, lucrative contract that we are discussing. We are not quite at the finish line yet. I’m still hopeful that we could come to an agreement, but we are not there yet.”

Nats’ Rizzo hoping to sign Zimmerman to extension

Although Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman doesn’t want to talk about a contract extension after Friday, it will not stop general manager Mike Rizzo from talking to Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, about a new deal.

“It won’t stop me from talking,” Rizzo said.

Van Wagenen was seen at the Nationals’ Spring Training complex on Wednesday talking to Rizzo. It’s not known how much progress has been made when it comes to Zimmerman’s contract. Zimmerman has two years left on his current deal.

Van Wagenen is expected to leave Viera, Fla., on Thursday night.

Asked Thursday morning if he was confident that he could get a deal done with Zimmerman, Rizzo said, “I don’t want to gauge my feelings on it. We are working extremely hard at it. … I’m hopeful. … [If we sign him to an extension], it would take something off our plate for the future. We have Ryan for two years. It would put a punctuation on Zim, at least, knowing that he would be with us for the long term.”

Nats’ Rizzo proud of his staff

A few hours after the Nationals’ minor league system was named the best in Major League Baseball by Baseball America, general manager Mike Rizzo sent this e-mail to his scouting and player development staff.

From: Mike Rizzo
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 3:02 PM
Subject: Congratulations

Guys,

A few minutes ago it was announced that Baseball America has ranked the Washington Nationals farm system #1 in baseball. I want to congratulate each and every one of you because this honor belongs to you.

I am well aware that this achievement is the direct result of a Scouting & Player Development staff that is the best in baseball. I want to personally express my thanks for the grueling hours, endless miles, and huge workload you’ve taken on. Your dedication and commitment is reflected in this accomplishment!

I am very proud and enormously appreciative. It is an honor to work with each of you and I look forward to sharing great successes together. You have my respect and my thanks.

Mike

Mike Rizzo
EXECUTIVE VP AND GENERAL MANAGER

Johnson to manage Nats next season

WASHINGTON — The Nationals announced on Monday that they have exercised manager Davey Johnson’s option for the 2012 season.

Johnson took over the position on an interim basis on June 26, three days after Jim Riggleman resigned. Washington went 40-43 under Johnson, finishing third in the National League East — its highest finish since the team moved from Montreal after the 2004 season.

Johnson said being around people in the front office, the Minor League system and Major Leagues are the reasons he wanted to continue to manage the club. Johnson sees himself as a father figure to most of the young players.

“It’s just a great organization. It’s one of the better ones I’ve ever been in, if not the best,” Johnson said. “There is no question that I love baseball. … I thought everything worked pretty good together [with the team]. I think we accomplished a lot of things. I would say the last two or three weeks, when I had kind of mixture of talent that I wanted on the ballclub … that’s when I really felt that there is so much more we can do here, and I need to be here to help see it along.”

Johnson made it clear that his goal in 2012 is win the NL pennant. To do that, the Nats must improve offensively. Johnson felt that his position players struck out too much. He would like to see much more production out of his reserves. Last year, the bench was built on speed and defense. Johnson would like to add power to the bench.

“I wouldn’t have been able to say that last spring,” Johnson said about winning a pennant. “But after being there and seeing the progress the young players made, I think we definitely can contend. I would be sorely disappointed if we didn’t do just that. The talent is there. I like the way we stack up in our division. I’m not just sticking out my chest. My baseball instinct tells me that’s where we need to be. That’s where we need to go and we can get there.”

In 2011, for the second time in his career, Johnson took a big league manager’s job in the middle of a season. He did the same with Cincinnati in 1993, and one season later, his Reds finished atop the NL Central with a .579 winning percentage during the strike-shortened 1994 campaign.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said it was an easy choice to hire Johnson as the interim manager in June. Rizzo remembered how Johnson worked with the players during Spring Training.

“The only questions that I had about Davey taking over [were], ‘Did he want to do it? Was his energy level and his focus were going to be there?’ Even as early as Spring Training this year, I saw that he moved around better this year,” Rizzo said. “He always had the fungo in his hands. He was always pounding ground balls to the young guys.

“He had the energy and a bounce in his step that I thought to myself, “Wow, Davey is really into it. He is really fired up for the season.’ It couldn’t have been a smoother, easier decision for me to bring Davey on in midseason. It was just as comfortable and easy decision after the season to pick up the option and make Davey the leader of the ballclub.”

Johnson has skippered five clubs (Nationals, Dodgers, Orioles, Reds, Mets) in 15 seasons, compiling a 1,188-931 record and a .561 career winning percentage that ranks second to only Earl Weaver (.583) among living managers with 10 or more years of experience.

He is one of only six living men to have won a World Series ring as a player and manager, joining Alvin Dark, Joe Girardi, Lou Piniella, Mike Scioscia and Red Schoendienst.

Johnson joined the Nationals as a special assistant to the general manager on Nov. 18, 2009, after managing Team USA to a semifinal berth in the World Baseball Classic.

Kasten happy Nationals were successful in this year’s draft

Stan Kasten said on Thursday the Nationals did a great job by signing most of their top picks — such as third baseman Anthony Rendon and left-hander Matt Purke — from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

“Awesome, fantastic,” Kasten said about Washington’s success with this year’s draft. “It’s what you need to do. They are doing it. I’m so proud of [general manager] Mike Rizzo, [assistant general manager] Roy Clark and [scouting director] Kris Kline. They do a great job. It’s exactly what you need to do build a team. You have to do it year in, year out, which they are starting to do. When you do, good things will happen.

“The owners deserve a lot of credit for stepping up. It’s starts with your scouts. People leading that effort — like Mike — there is no group better than them. I think they showed it this year. The owners showed their support. It’s all good. It’s all really positive. They have the makings of a good team here, but even better, a good homegrown team. That’s the best kind of team of all.”

Kasten was at Nationals Park when the club introduced Purke to the media. Kasten found out that Purke wears No. 47 because of his baseball hero, left-hander Tom Glavine. Kasten has a close relationship with Glavine after working together for 16 years in the Braves organization. So Kasten took out his blackberry, called Glavine and had him talk to Purke.

“They talked today,” Kasten said. “It was fun for Tommy and fun for Matt, who was sky high after that. It was real easy to do. I said to Matt, ‘Here’s Tommy.’ And Tommy was happy to do it.”

Kasten was the Nationals’ president from 2006 until last year. Under his leadership, the Nationals started replenishing their farm system by drafting and signing players such as right-hander Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper.

Kasten declined to say why he was in the DC area.

Nats’ Purke to be introduced to media Thursday

Left-hander Matt Purke, the third-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, will be introduced by the Nationals during a Thursday afternoon press conference.

Purke received a Major League contract Monday night and was put on the 40-man roster. It was reported that Purke received a four-year, $4.4 million deal, but a source said the deal is less than the reported dollar figure.

The left-hander has the ability of a top-round talent — and was selected No. 14 overall by the Rangers in 2009, coming out of high school — but he came with injury concerns.

Purke had a dominant freshman season that saw him go 21-1 for Texas Christian University, but elbow bursitis shut down the sophomore after 11 starts this season.

Before agreeing to terms, Purke took a physical and pitched in front of general manager Mike Rizzo and a member of his staff. Purke showed that he was healthy and the team was willing to sign him.

“[Purke] was so open and honest about what he went through,” Rizzo said Monday. “He allowed us full access to him. Not many Draft choices allow you to do an MRI or arthrogram and shoot dye into the bodies for us to get a clear evaluation of their status.”

Nats who could be traded before deadline

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo recently said he is looking to acquire starting pitching and “two-way” position players before the non-waiver trade deadline, which is July 31st.

Below is a list of current Nationals players Rizzo could trade to get what he wants.

Roger Bernadina, CF — Some key members of the Nationals organization see Bernadina as a corner outfielder, but with Bryce Harper possibly coming to the big leagues as early as next year, one wonders if there is any room for Bernadina. Harper is expected to start his big-league career in left field.

Sean Burnett, LHP — As recently as two weeks ago, the Yankees had their eyes on Burnett, but it seems hard to believe the Nationals would trade him because manager Davey Johnson said he would like to have two lefties out of the bullpen.

Tyler Clippard, RHP — Opposing teams are interested in Clippard — and for good reason. He is clearly Washington’s best reliever. However, Rizzo has to be blown away to trade the right-hander. A quality leadoff hitter and a starting pitcher would be nice in exchange for Clippard.

Todd Coffey, RHP – Teams like the Rangers have had their eyes on Coffey for quite some time, however, since June 1, Coffey has allowed 11 runs in 15 2/3 innings.

Tom Gorzelanny, LHP -– When he is on, Gorzelanny will get a lot of strikeouts. When he struggles, the ball goes out of the park most of the time.

Ian Desmond, SS – He has been outstanding defensively, but has struggled mightily at the plate. The Nationals have a Plan B if Desmond continues to struggle. They would promote Steve Lombardozzi to the big league to play to second base and move Danny Espinosa from second to shortstop, his original position.

Jerry Hairston Jr., INF, OF — His best work came while filling in for third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who missed more than two months of the season because of abdominal problems. A playoff team could use Hairston for its bench.

Livan Hernandez, RHP — If a team needs a pitcher with playoff experience, Hernandez is the guy. There are days when he is unhittable and other days when he is throwing batting practice.

Jesus Flores, C – Opposing teams look at Flores as a project. After missing almost two years of action because of a shoulder injury, Flores still looks rusty. Scouts believe he doesn’t have the arm strength to throw out opposing base stealers.

Jason Marquis, RHP – Marquis said he would like to stay with the Nationals and get a multi-year deal. But with Chien-Ming Wang, Stephen Strasburg and Brad Peacock on the way, one has to believe Marquis will be one of the first to be dealt before the deadline.

Laynce Nix, OF/1B – His value is higher than ever. For the first time in his career, Nix is playing every day and is the second best hitter on the team behind Michael Morse. Nix also is an above average outfielder

Ivan Rodriguez, C – He is eligible to come off the disabled list late this week. The question is, does Pudge have enough in the tank to help a playoff contender? Behind the plate? Yes. As a hitter, Rodriguez has a .214 betting average with two homers and 19 RBIs.

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