Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo on club’s plans to compete; continue building this season


Earlier than the lockout started in early December this winter, and as quickly as they might as soon as it got here to an finish in mid-March, the Washington Nationals carried out their plan to construct a workforce which may doubtlessly compete this season if all the pieces ([stresses]: “The whole lot!”) goes proper they usually catch different golf equipment abruptly early within the organizational reboot interval the workforce kicked off with their sell-off on the commerce deadline final July.

“When the bell did ring [once the lockout ended], we — like each different workforce — hit the telephones onerous and there have been quite a lot of telephone calls going forwards and backwards, and like we often do, we now have our guidelines of issues we’d prefer to get completed within the offseason,” GM Mike Rizzo advised reporters on the primary day of Spring Coaching final month.

Whereas acknowledging the necessity for beginning and bullpen depth, and suggesting {that a} increase to the lineup was not out of the query (earlier than the membership added a pair starters, in Aaron Sanchez and Aníbal Sánchez; who was simply introduced as a part of the Opening Day rotation this week, a reliever in Steve Cishek, after which added a giant bat in DH Nelson Cruz), Rizzo stated the principle focus this yr can be on participant growth on the roster, and getting the in-house expertise enjoying as much as their potential so the membership can see what they’ve, whereas making an attempt to compete for a postseason berth.

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“What I’d prefer to see is the development of our younger gamers and I feel that’s an vital a part of our course of right here,” he defined.

“We have to get our younger gamers competing at championship-caliber performances. To me that’s our No. 1 precedence.”

Roster strikes this winter have been considered in that mild.

“We take this a bit of bit completely different than we’ve taken it annually, however we’re making an attempt to make strikes to win video games,” Rizzo stated, “and we all know the place our panorama goes and what our massive image appears like, however the strikes we’re going to make are going to be with profitable this yr in thoughts, but additionally with an even bigger image to getting again to that ten-year-window of being probably the greatest groups in baseball.”

Cishek, Sanchez, Sánchez, and Cruz (amongst others who joined the group) all signed on within the rapid aftermath of the lockout, offering examples of what Rizzo and Co. within the Nationals’ entrance workplace had deliberate this winter (veterans on one-year offers who might help if the membership is in a aggressive place come late July; or may be traded if not), however the GM in D.C. nonetheless declined, as he did final season, to supply any kind of timeline for when he thinks the membership will compete for championships once more.

“I don’t know, it’s type of onerous to place a tangible quantity on it,” Rizzo stated.

“We’ve been via the method earlier than, and we really feel that we now have a superb blueprint of getting us again to that championship type within the close to future, however once more, we’re about profitable video games this yr, and we’re going to be quietly plugging away to win every recreation we now have, and there’s 12 playoff groups and we wish to be one in all them, in order that’s what I’m this yr.

“Regarding the championship window, it may begin at any time, and we’re making strikes in direction of that finish, however we’re nonetheless making an attempt to win each baseball recreation we play.”

Starter Joe Ross has since suffered a setback in his build-up — (after an ACL tear which didn’t require surgical procedure ended his 2021 season in August final summer season) — with a bone spur in his proper elbow surgically eliminated, which can delay his progress, and Stephen Strasburg, who had surgical procedure for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome final summer season, plans to take his time and construct up as standard this spring as he works his method again, however the Nats’ GM stated in March that he thought the depth was there, pitching-wise, on the main league stage and down within the system.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates

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“We’re going to see what our depth is all about, and we’re going to see some pitchers within the massive leagues this yr that might be thrilling — younger and thrilling — and guys which are going to take that subsequent step and assist us into this subsequent realm of championship years.”

As for the roster they’ve assembled total, and what the identification of the workforce they’ve put collectively might be?

“We’ve bought a superb mixture of some actually younger, up-and-coming prospects and a few actually good, grizzled veterans which are good, high quality individuals,” Rizzo advised 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports activities Junkies yesterday.

“I feel it’s a superb mixture of young and old, and I feel we’re going to play an thrilling model of baseball, and you understand, [manager] Davey Martinez’s groups, they depart all of it on the sphere.

“Our expectations are to carry out admirably, to win, and we’re — we wish to be one of many 12 groups within the playoffs, and that’s what we’re seeking to be, and we wish to shock individuals, we wish to shock some individuals and get within the event, and as soon as we’re within the event, you by no means know what occurs.”

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