- - Thursday, April 5, 2018

Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff pulled off a coup in December 2014 as they acquired shortstop Trea Turner and pitcher Joe Ross from the San Diego Padres in a three-way deal that also included Tampa Bay.

It is one of several astute trades Rizzo has made in his tenure, and on Thursday the Nationals announced Rizzo had signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2020. Turner was a finalist for National League rookie of the year in 2016.

The previous contract for Rizzo was set to end in late October.

“He puts in a lot of our hours people don’t see,” Turner said Thursday, before the Nationals played their home opener against the New York Mets. “He has done a great job of putting a (good) team on the field. Hats off to him. I congratulated him this morning.”

Rizzo and his staff drafted pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the Opening Day starter Thursday, as the No. 1 overall pick in 2009 and took outfielder Bryce Harper as the top pick the following year.

“He is one of the best in the game,” Harper said Thursday of Rizzo. “He has done a great job for this organization.”

While detractors would point out those were easy picks, Rizzo made other key moves that were not so high profile.

The Nationals drafted Michael A. Taylor as an infielder out of a Florida high school in the sixth round in 2009 and converted him into an outfielder.

Taylor was in the starting lineup as the center fielder against the Mets for the home opener.

During the 2010 season the Nationals traded for pitcher Tanner Roark, a 25th round pick with the Texas Rangers in 2008.

Washington gave up shortstop Cristian Guzman to the Rangers for pitcher Roark, who has won 44 games in three seasons when he was used mostly as a starter for the Nationals.

What does first-year manager Davey Martinez think of the extension for Rizzo?

“Very excited. Since I have been here I have learned so much from Mike Rizzo,” Martinez said. “It is nice to know we will be together for a few years. We work well together. He is a good man. I love the conversations we have every day.”

The Nationals went 4-2 on their first road trip of the season in Cincinnati and Atlanta.

“I’m glad it got put behind us now,” Rizzo said before facing the Mets. “We have built a winning culture (but) we are lacking the big prize. We are one of the most consistent, winning franchises in baseball. We are proud of that.”

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