Nationals extending Dave Martinez, Mike Rizzo represents Yankees' misstep

The Yankees thought they were doing this with Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Very quietly, the Washington Nationals repaired their roster ever since it broke down after the 2019 World Series. General manager Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez have done a commendable job orchestrating the fast turnaround, which is why the duo just earned contract extensions.

See? You have to earn a contract extension; something the New York Yankees don't instill with their personnel. Martinez and Rizzo were inherited by a new ownership group and navigated unexpected and unforeseen roadblocks to bring the Nationals on the track back to relevancy.

Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman? Nothing but regression since 2019. Nothing but disappointment in almost every high-profile matchup outside of battles against the AL Central.

Yet, Boone received a three-year extension after a disgraceful 2021 season that saw the Yankees limp into the playoffs and get embarrassed by the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Game when they were supposed to be a World Series favorite. Cashman got a four-year extension of his own after the 2022 season -- when he famously destroyed the hottest team in baseball's chemistry with his horrible moves at the trade deadline.

That's what we call the fast track to nowhere, which is what the Yankees are experiencing at the moment. After what was on pace to be an historic season in 2022, the Bombers are 60-65 in 2023, are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and could finish with their first losing record since 1992.

Nationals extending Dave Martinez, Mike Rizzo represents Yankees' misstep

It just keeps getting worse for the Yankees, too. They're now in the midst of their first nine-game losing streak since 1982. It's the first time in franchise history they've lost nine straight and logged fewer than 50 hits in those nine games.

There's no end in sight. While Cashman's roster construction was built like a wobbly Jenga set, Boone's managerial tactics have hardly done anything to combat the hand he's been dealt.

In the case of the Nationals? Rizzo has been GM since 2009 -- a similar length in tenure to Cashman, who has been employed in the same job for 25 years. Martinez was hired after the 2017 season -- just like Boone.

The counter argument to this is that the Nationals have just one playoff appearance since Martinez succeeded Dusty Baker and are on track for their fourth straight last-place finish in the NL East.

But again, look what Rizzo and Martinez navigated:

  • The old ownership group refusing to re-sign Bryce Harper
  • Stephen Strasburg pitching in eight total games after signing a massive extension after 2019
  • Anthony Rendon departing in free agency for the Angels
  • Juan Soto refusing to sign a record $440 million contract extension
  • Patrick Corbin regressing to one of the worst regular starting pitchers in MLB
  • Trading Max Scherzer, Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber when they had no choice

They also won a World Series. They also quickly brought a team back from the depths, further proving their tactics, vision and philosophy work.

When Rizzo's hand was forced, he got prospect hauls for Soto, Schwarber, Scherzer, Turner, Josh Bell, Brad Hand, Yan Gomes, Jon Lester and more. Cashman? Instead of going for the jugular, he's continued to make risk-averse trades that have either set the Yankees back or kept them stuck in neutral. When ownership kept Rizzo under financial constraints, he got creative and rode a magical 2019 run to the World Series without Harper. When Cashman's been given financial constraints, he misallocates funds (Josh Donaldson, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Frankie Montas, Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, etc.) and unloads the top of his farm system for replacement-level players.

It seems Hal Steinbrenner thinks he has a duo like Martinez and Rizzo, when in reality the pair of Boone and Cashman have followed a trajectory quite the opposite (even though their last four seasons have technically been "better"). But the Nationals reached the ultimate goal of winning a World Series and then about-faced into what's looking like a successful rebuild. The Yankees came within a game of the World Series in 2017 and have only gotten worse since.

Something tells us the Nats will be better off in the immediate future, too.