Mike Rizzo and the Nationals are feuding with their own Single-A team and things are getting ugly

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Last week Washington general manager Mike Rizzo went public with his complaints about the field conditions in Potomac, which is home to the Nationals’ high Single-A affiliate, calling them “dangerous” and “a safety threat.”

That apparently didn’t sit very well with Potomac owner Art Silber, who fired back in the Washington Times today:

He clearly doesn’t know what he was talking about. He has no idea what has happened at our ballpark and really shouldn’t be commenting on it. The field is fine. We’re not sure why Mr. Rizzo made the comments he did, which were, really, very unfortunate. They certainly did not reflect the reality for us.

There are perhaps valid reasons for the poor conditions in Potomac, such as a recent storm flooding the field, but for Silber to suggest that “the field is fine” is absurd. Does he think Rizzo didn’t hear complaints about the field from numerous players, coaches, and Nationals staffers before spouting off? Does he think fans who’ve watched games at Potomac’s ballpark this season haven’t commented about what a mess things are there? There’s a reason why Silber has been working on building a new ballpark.

Heck, Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times notes that as recently as last week five Nationals executives were in attendance when managers from both teams and the umpiring crew agreed that the field was unplayable. All of which is why Rizzo “stood by his statement” after being told of Silber’s response.

And Silber’s isn’t the only person upset over Rizzo’s comments. In fact, his response seems downright pleasant compared to Prince William Board of County Supervisors chairman Corey Stewart:

Rizzo ought to focus on doing his job, which could probably use some improvement. He’s talking out of his rear end. He doesn’t know what’s happening because he didn’t bother to check. Frankly, he’s not a good manager. He’s received a lot of criticism for his performance for the job he should be doing. He should stick to the job he’s supposed to do instead of getting involved in something he doesn’t know about.

Fenno writes that Stewart’s voice was “shaking” with anger as he uttered the above quote and he went on to call for Rizzo to be fired.

I’m not exactly the world’s biggest Rizzo fan, but a crucial aspect of his job is the development of minor leaguers and keeping them healthy is a big part of that, which is why there was speculation the Nationals promoted Bryce Harper from low Single-A to Double-A because they didn’t want him playing on Potomac’s field. Rizzo later denied those claims, but the notion that keeping tabs on the playing conditions in the minors doesn’t qualify as “doing his job” is silly.

And here’s a pretty simple solution if Silber and Stewart want Rizzo and others to stop criticizing the playing conditions in Potomac: Fix the damn field.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.