The Nationals announced a handful of front-office moves today, officially naming former Braves scouting director Roy Clark their VP of player personnel, promoting Kris Kline to scouting director and hiring veteran scout Doug Harris as director of player development. They also hired Johnny DiPuglia, who was the Red Sox’s Latin American scouting director, to be their director of Latin American operations.
It probably won’t be the end of the front-office reshuffling—Rizzo said he is still looking for an assistant GM that’s well-versed in contracts and procedural issues—but it means the bulk of the Nationals’ new executives are in place.
“You’re only as good as the lieutenants around you,” Rizzo said. “These are people with good baseball backgrounds. It’s no coincidence the guys we’ve gotten have rings. They’ve been with good, long-standing, consistent, successful organizations. It’s good to have good baseball people around us.”
Clark, who worked with team president Stan Kasten in Atlanta and turned down an offer from the Nationals in 2006, will focus mostly on scouting and the draft, in addition to taking on occasional extra duties from Rizzo.
He said Rizzo asked the Braves for permission to speak to him last Wednesday, and the two met in Washington on Monday. From there, Clark said, “I was ready to accept (the offer) on the spot.
“Rizz is very convincing. So is Stan,” Clark said. “The plan they had in place, they’ve got a chance to be special.”
The hiring of the well-respected DiPuglia away from the Red Sox is bound to be viewed as a coup in baseball circles, and DiPuglia will be in charge of reshaping the Nationals’ Latin American operation following the scandal in the Dominican Republic that surfaced last spring. The Nationals are close to finding a site for a new academy in the Dominican after shutting down their operations at now-fired special assistant Jose Rijo’s academy in February.
Harris is another scouting veteran, and Rizzo said VP of player development Bob Boone will stay on to work with him.
Last but not least, Rizzo said the Nationals’ managerial search is still in its elementary stages, and could extend until after the postseason, since the Nationals might be looking at candidates whose teams are still playing.
“We’re in the midst of making phone calls, whittling down a long list to a smaller list,” he said. “We’ve got a terrific in-house candidate in Jim Riggleman, who’s got as good a chance as anybody of being the manager for the Washington Nationals. We’ll begin a little more seriously in the very near future, but we wanted to make sure these vital hirings got done.”