Nationals GM Mike Rizzo joined Holden and Danny Thursday to talk about the off season, talented young players on the roster and Atlanta’s moves.
The Nationals enjoyed their best season in D.C. in 2012, and Rizzo will continue to watch player development in the years to come.
“You have to really evaluate your own system and where players are at in their progression and development and kind of put that all into a master plan of what you’re trying to do over the next couple of years,” said Rizzo. “We’re always looking down the road, not only for the ’13 season but through ’14, ’15 and beyond.”
Looking forward, Rizzo sees prospects like center fielder Brian Goodwin and slugging third baseman Matt Skole contributing in the “not-so-distant future.”
Bryce Harper took home the National League Rookie of the Year award with arguably the best season by a teenager in the history of the game. Rizzo praised Harper for maturity and talent beyond his years.
“From the time that we signed Bryce [Harper], we knew that he was a unique talent and that he was a special type of player,” said Rizzo.” He was one of the best players we had regardless of his age or service time.”
Despite a historic collapse against the Cardinals in game 5 of the NLDS, Rizzo says he still has confidence in his closer Drew Storen.
“The good [closers] have short memories, they go out there and take care of business and we think Drew [Storen] is one of the good one’s.”
Rizzo mentioned the Nationals could be looking for a leadoff hitter to play center field and that Harper could be moved to a corner outfield spot in the future. A few hours later, the team traded right-handed pitching prospect Alex Meyer to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Denard Span, who is widely regarded as one of the best lead-off hitters in baseball.
Rizzo gave a Stephen Strasburg update, saying “he’s doing great, he’s working out and preparing for spring training.”
As the Nationals look to improve this off-season, the Braves have already made a few acquisitions, namely former Rays outfielder B.J. Upton.
“He’s a terrific young man from a great family who I know very well and he’s going to give them speed/power combination,” Rizzo said. “He’s got a propensity to strike out but he also has a propensity to hit 25-30 home runs and steal you 30 bases and play great defense.”
Rizzo will be looking to improve a Nationals team that will be defending a division title in 2013 with the winter meetings right around the corner.