MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nationals pick up GM Rizzo's option

Nationals pick up GM Rizzo's option

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have exercised the option of general manager Mike Rizzo's contract, keeping him with the organization through the 2018 season. The team had until June 15 to pick up the option.

Managing principal owner Ted Lerner called Rizzo into his office between games of a day-night doubleheader to inform him that the team was going to pick up the option. Before receiving the news, Rizzo said he wasn't thinking about his contract situation.

"I haven't been thinking about it at all," Rizzo said. "I always felt that we were doing a good job here, and I wasn't worried about the contract at all, and I guess it's good to have the decision made. You get it done, we got a lot of work to do. It [would've been] right around Draft time, so that would be inconvenient to be working on things at that time, but it was something that I thought very little about. Now that it's behind us, we can take that off our plate and we don't have to worry about it."

Rizzo replaced Jim Bowden as GM in 2009. During that time, the Nationals were one of the worst teams in the Major Leagues, but Rizzo turned the franchise into a championship contender by rebuilding the farm system and drafting players such as Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.

Rizzo on contract extension

Rizzo was also able to sign veterans like outfielder Jayson Werth and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to long-term deals. By 2012, the Nationals won the first of two division titles under Rizzo's leadership.

"We put together a scouting and player development staff that's second to none. A front office staff, an analytical -- a research and development staff that we are very proud of," Rizzo said. "I think the decisions we've made utilizing all of our personnel are the keys to our success."

Rizzo was named MLB Executive of the Year by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America for the Nationals winning the division title in '12.

"We are pleased with the job Mike has done over the past nine years," Lerner said. "He and the baseball operations team have worked tirelessly to help build this organization into one of Major League Baseball's elite clubs. We are fortunate to have him."

Rizzo is in his 10th season with the organization. He joined the Nationals in 2006 as an assistant general manager.

"I am honored by the Lerner family's continued faith and confidence in me and am thrilled to be remaining with the Washington Nationals' organization," Rizzo said. "While I am proud of the work we have accomplished, we still must achieve the ultimate goal of bringing a World Series championship back to Washington."

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.