Amid uncertainty over who will be the Nationals’ owners long term, president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo doesn’t anticipate the club’s direction changing course.
The Washington Post reported Monday that the Lerner family, headed by principal owner Mark Lerner, hired an investment bank to explore avenues for selling the team or bringing in minority owners. Mark’s father Ted Lerner purchased the club from Major League Baseball in 2006 for $450 million and it’s remained in the family ever since.
Rizzo joined 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning and shared his reaction to the news that he may have a new boss to report to in the near future.
“I was pretty surprised,” Rizzo said. “It was taken by surprise by me and a lot of other people in the office, but it doesn’t affect what I do and what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish. Mark Lerner and the Lerner family has been such a supportive ownership group over the years. So we’re going to do our thing, we’ve got our blueprint, we’ve got our plan in place to do what we’re supposed to do and that’s not going to change anything about how we run the team or handle our day-to-day business.”
The Nationals’ current plan is one centered around a young core of players looking to prove they can help Juan Soto carry the club back to contention. After winning the World Series in 2019, Washington failed to return to the playoffs in 2020 and got off to a slow start last summer before trading eight players at the deadline to reload their farm system. The team entered this season with low expectations but plenty of opportunities for young players to earn playing time.
Both Rizzo and manager Davey Martinez have maintained that the Nationals hope to put a competitive product on the field this season. However, Rizzo also said in spring training that he’s operating with the bigger picture in mind. The clarity of that picture hinges on the future of Soto, who’s only under team control through the 2024 season. Washington has made working out an extension its “No. 1 priority,” per Rizzo.
With or without the Lerners, Rizzo plans to push forward on the path his front office chose last summer.