The GM question

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Mike Rizzo was the man on the phone with Scott Boras last night, negotiating the final details of Stephen Strasburg’s $15.1 million contract. He was the point man for the Nationals, no one else. And today he was the guy being trotted out by the organization to take credit and accept praise for getting the deal done, doing a host of interviews all afternoon and evening.

So it doesn’t really make much sense that there are rumors swirling about a pending decision from the Nationals to name Diamondbacks VP Jerry Dipoto as their permanent GM instead of Rizzo. Dipoto is one of three people I’ve been told has been strongly considered for the GM job, along with Rizzo and Jed Hoyer of the Red Sox. But I have to say, I just can’t see the Nats making that decision this week in the wake of the Strasburg signing.

For one thing, the timing would be horrible and ruin whatever goodwill this club has built up in the last month. For another thing, it would be an absolute slap in the face of Rizzo, who since taking over March 1 has done nothing wrong and indeed has done a great number of impressive things to make this franchise more competitive. He has been lauded across the sport for his acquisition of Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett, for his remaking of the Nats bullpen, and most importantly for his ability to restore the Nats’ good name around baseball. He has brought respectability back to this organization.

Now, Dipoto is an attractive candidate and is seen as a strong GM-in-waiting. And perhaps it would make sense to hire him in Washington … but at the end of the season, not now.

There’s another factor in all this, one that was pointed out to me earlier this evening by someone who knows the Nats front office well. The GM decision can’t really be made until Stan Kasten has decided whether to remain as team president or not. There haven’t been many rumors lately about Kasten’s potential departure, and certainly there’s reason to believe he’s going to stick around here a while longer. And if he stays, this person believes, Rizzo likely gets the GM job. If Kasten were to leave, though, then whoever the new team president was would have to have the final say on a GM.

Take that all into consideration, and I just don’t see an outside candidate being formally named GM in the immediate future. The Nats have waited this long. Why not just wait til the end of the season?

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Mark Zuckerman

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