The Nationals' decision to give general manager Mike Rizzo a five-year contract extension was a formality, in a way. However, it also signaled a significant change for Rizzo. Due to his new title, Rizzo now has a direct line to ownership, which is something he hasn't had yet.
Rizzo certainly acted as if he was the man in charge over the past couple of years, but the wheels for his long-term future were set in motion even before former team president Stan Kasten stepped down. As Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington notes, Rizzo was slowly gaining more power within the organization.
Over the course of the last two seasons, though, Rizzo has taken on more responsibility and made several major moves that have put his stamp on the entire organization. He promoted Jim Riggleman from interim to full-time manager, revamped the front office with a host of new assistants and scouts, signed No. 1 draft picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper to record-setting contracts and traded away veterans Cristian Guzman, Nick Johnson and Matt Capps for prospects who could ultimately help the Nationals post their first winning season since arriving in town in 2005.
Now, Rizzo has that direct line. All the big-picture things Kasten used to do now fall to Rizzo, something he acknowledged in a press conference today. Via Zuckerman.
"I do believe that with the new responsibility and the new title and the new job description, I feel it will certainly be my baby," he said. "My fingerprints will be all over the organization, more so than they are already."
This gives Rizzo a lot of power within the organization in a short period of time. As Ben Goessling of MASN notes, it's pretty remarkable how quickly Rizzo has ... well ... risen (sorry for the bad pun) in the organization after coming over as a scout in 2006.