Davey Martinez is contractually guaranteed to have a job into the fall. That’s it.
When hired, he was tasked with winning the World Series. Anything less was not sufficient in the eyes of the ownership group. It’s part of the reason Dusty Baker was not retained, it’s a prevailing reason so many before Martinez and Baker did not stick around.
Martinez met the mandate. The team missed the playoffs in his first season while being bludgeoned by injuries. Mike Rizzo suggested this spring going 82-80 in 2018 may have been Martinez’s best managerial work. Even better than bringing a team from 19-31 to the title.
So, in two seasons, Martinez was in charge when a possibly disastrous season remained afloat, and then when the team needed to be turned from drastic underachievers to champions. Yet, he waits to hear about his employment future as May begins. When asked Friday on a conference call if he’s heard anything about his status, he said, “Nothing, no,” before transitioning.
“Right now, I’m pretty much self-isolated here [in Tennessee],” Martinez said. “I just want to make sure we’re all healthy, we stay healthy, and that there somehow, some way, will be a 2020 season.”
Martinez is the seventh full-time manager of the team since baseball returned to the District 15 years ago. The organization often leaves decisions about front office and managerial personnel to the last minute. In this case, Martinez was slated to become the organization’s longest-tenured manager by games managed midway through the season. He will, seemingly, make it to the end of his third full year in Washington no matter what happens. That will be a first for Nationals managers.
The question is why is he still waiting to find out if the club-held option for 2021 will be picked up? The organization is within its rights to wait until a deadline to decide. But, what is going to change between now and then? Is there any conceivable way Martinez could do something, while baseball isn’t even being played, to make them not want to pick up the option? And, wouldn’t this be a savvy PR time to do so?
Rizzo is more than familiar with the challenging negotiating process with the Lerner family. He is in the final year of his contract. There is no option on the end. So, Rizzo could be employed by a different organization next offseason if he does not reach a new deal with Washington.
The last time Rizzo’s contract was going to run out, he and the Nationals reached an extension in April of 2018. That’s the deal that put him into the current limbo. Though he, like Martinez, comes to negotiations with a personal cudgel for the first time: he was tasked with building a championship team. He did that.
So, they both wait. Rizzo’s situation is more complicated because of the sure increase in money which awaits him. For Martinez, the answer is obvious, which makes the delay even more curious.
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