by Chris LIngebach

WASHINGTON — Nationals General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo did not give the strongest vote of confidence for Matt Williams returning as manager next season.

On plenty of occasions this season, Rizzo has used his weekly radio platform on 106.7 The Fan to voice support for Williams, through various losing streaks and recurring questions of whether Williams has managed the Nats’ bullpen properly.

[Rizzo: Williams Did ‘Masterful’ Job Vs. Cardinals]

And yet, as the Nationals stand 6.5 games behind the Mets with 12 to play, when asked Wednesday whether Williams will return in 2016, Rizzo was noncommittal.

[Rizzo Defends Matt Williams in Rant]

“Well, we’re going to certainly evaluate everything that went right and went wrong this season, after the season,” he told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “We still have a lot of games to go here in the 2015 season.”

[Rizzo, Williams Talk Strategy Every Day]

“We’re prepared and we want to win each and every game of those coming up this season,” he continued. “We’re going to let the chips fall where they may. The odds are really stacked against us, but we’re going to put our best foot forward and our best lineup out there throughout the rest of this season.

“And then, after the season, we’re going to take a look at all aspects of our operation, from general manager’s office all the way down to the 40-man roster, and we’ll make decisions based on what our findings are, and how to proceed to make this organization continue to be playing meaningful games in September and October and to be one of the real vital franchises in baseball.”

Paulsen followed up: “Is it fair to say, then, that you’re still in evaluation mode? In other words, that your decision on whether or not someone’s coming back has not been made yet because there’s still games, you’re going to evaluate what happens in those games before you decide that?”

“I think that’s accurate,” Rizzo said. “I think it would be shortsighted of me to make any decisions when I don’t have all the facts in front of me.

“We’re certainly going to evaluate this season when it’s over, and we’ll do everything we have to do to make the season in 2016 better than the season in 2015. That’s always our goal, is to improve ourselves each and every year, and to be a viable franchise that contends for championships each and every year, consistently, not a go-for-it-this-year, and future-be-damned, it’s go for it this year, along with being ready and prepared and stable throughout the upcoming years.”

The conclusion to be drawn here: Let the players play it out entirely, then see where we are. That’s not an endorsement, to be clear.

The Nationals, prior to the start of the 2015 season, did exercise the 2016 option on Williams’ contract.

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