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Could delayed season be why Nationals haven't signed Davey Martinez, Mike Rizzo to new deals

Could delayed season be why Nationals haven't signed Davey Martinez, Mike Rizzo to new deals

As we anticipate the official start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez await new contracts. Two of the biggest reasons for the Nationals' World Series run in 2019 are entering the final year of their current deals and have yet to finalize their status beyond this season. 

So the Washington Post's Jesse Dougherty and former Nats beat writer Jamal Collier joined Todd Dybas on the Nationals Talk podcast to try and figure out why.

While Dougherty admitted these contracts should have, "locked up a while ago," he brings up the coronavirus pandemic and MLB's suspended season as a cause for the lack of ongoing talks.

"I think now I can sort of make a devil's advocate argument on the organization's side to not do it now because there's so many people organizationally, top-to-bottom, who are in financial limbo and not sure what their jobs are going to be like come June or July," Dougherty said. "It may look weird to make Mike Rizzo the second-highest-paid GM in baseball behind Theo Epstein potentially, while there are dozens and dozens of people who are still wondering if they're going to get regular pay come next month."

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The Nationals have assured full-time employees they would get full pay through May 31, but there are no new developments yet for what will happen in June and beyond. 

"It is weird the way [the Nationals] have traditionally continued to treat general managers and managers," Collier said. "It sort of makes you think, 'What else do they have to do?'

"I think it's a very weird time for all teams to figure out exactly how to maneuver transactions," he said. "I guess I can see the other side of it, but in general these are people you are confident in going forward and want to keep around long-term in your organization, so it's something I think you could've, should've been working out and try to get done here."

Martinez and Rizzo have reiterated time and time again how they're more worried about the Nationals' upcoming title defense than their pending contract situations. As two individuals who built and led a team from a 19-31 start to a magical run in the postseason, they'd be justified to feel good about the future. 

Still, until this contract situation is resolved it'll remain a major storyline hanging over the future of the franchise. 

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How will MLB's new extra inning with a runner on second rule work strategically?

How will MLB's new extra inning with a runner on second rule work strategically?

Major League Baseball is going to be bizarre in 2020. A 60-game schedule. The designated hitter in the National League. No fans.

But the change a lot of baseball fans might have the toughest getting used to is the tweak to extra innings. Each team will begin each extra inning with a man on second base. The crew from the Nationals Talk podcast had differing opinions on the new rule.

“I absolutely love it,” NBC Sports Washington's Nick Ashooh said.

Team reporter Todd Dybas did not agree.

“The rule is dumb. It goes against everything that baseball is about.”

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Chase Hughes broke the tie. “I’m a no on the rule too. I’m with Todd.”

What about the strategy of starting with a man on second base? Could team's exploit or alter the ending of the previous frame to set up a new inning? 

The rule states: “The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning shall be the player (or a substitute for such player) in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter.”

Dybas wondered if it would be wise to end the previous inning on purpose if a speedster is at the plate with two outs.

“Would it behoove [Giants'] Billy Hamilton to make the final out? So the next inning he would start at second base?” Hamilton is a career .242 hitting but has 299 stolen bases in 809 games played. 

RELATED: COULD MORE OPT-OUTS BE COMING? 

Frustration will also be inevitable. “I can’t wait to hear from the players on the first team to lose by that rule,” Hughes said. “What are they going to say?” 

2020 has already thrown us plenty of curveballs, the changes to baseball will just be a couple more the sports world will have to adjust to. 

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Report: 6 Nationals among players MLB didn't test for COVID-19 before flight from Dominican Republic

Report: 6 Nationals among players MLB didn't test for COVID-19 before flight from Dominican Republic

One of two flights chartered by Major League Baseball from the Dominican Republic to Miami carried multiple players that tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in the U.S., The Washington Post reported Thursday evening. None of the more than 160 players and staff members were tested by MLB for the disease prior to flying.

Among the passengers on those flights—which flew out of Santo Domingo on July 1—were Nationals players Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Wander Suero and Fernando Abad as well as two of their prospects in Luis Garcia and Joan Adon. All six players are isolating in D.C. and one of them, The Post reported, tested positive for the coronavirus during intake screening July 2.

The Nationals announced Sunday that two players had tested positive upon arriving to D.C. and were in isolation. In addition to the six players who flew from the D.R., Howie Kendrick, Starlin Castro and Roenis Elías were absent from practice at Nationals Park this week. Although Castro returned to the field Thursday, Washington has yet to give any updates on the remaining players not cleared for play.

RELATED: MIKE RIZZO SAYS ‘I COULDN’T LIVE WITH MYSELF IF WE WENT ON HAPHAZARDLY’

“We’re still waiting to hear about those other guys,” manager Davey Martinez said in a Zoom press conference Thursday. “But they’re working diligently, MLB and our medical staff, to get those guys cleared. Hopefully, we’ll get them soon.”

The lack of testing prior to those flights was a result of insufficient resources in the D.R. to accommodate the number of people who were to board, The Post reported. The news comes three days after the Nationals opted to cancel practice due to test results taking over 72 hours to come in. General manager Mike Rizzo issued a strong statement that afternoon stressing the importance of quick testing.

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“We cannot have our players and staff work at risk,” Rizzo wrote. “We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families.  Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp.  Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab.  Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.”

MLB’s 2020 season is scheduled to begin July 23, when the Nationals are set to host the New York Yankees on Opening Night.

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