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Nationals front office takes a hit as Jay Sartori leaves for Blue Jays

Nationals Director of Baseball Operations Jay Sartori is leaving less than a year after joining the team and will become an assistant general manager with the Toronto Blue Jays, according to a press release from the Jays.

Sartori, 31, came to the Nationals after working for four years in MLB's labor relations department and served as an expert in financial matters and details pertaining to contracts and the collective bargaining agreement.

Last year, the Blue Jays plucked former Nationals scouting director Dana Brown and added him to their front office.

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 13, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
 
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Comments

This is not meant as a criticism of Adam but there's an opportunity for reporting here.

A couple of years ago, there were credible reports of major unhappiness and departures in the front office, especially in marketing. Are these departures on the baseball side indicative of a morale problem? A sense that the team is not likely to emerge as a contender? Low pay? Other issues?

Or are they just the isolated moves that happen in any organization.

Given the history of this franchise and the team's continued lackluster performance on the field and at the gate, these are questions that need to be asked and answered.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 13, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Director of Baseball Operations . . . less than a year..."

Huh.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | September 13, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Is this the first rat to flee the ship?

Posted by: hansenjo | September 13, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Interesting since Sartori was one of Rizzo's first announced hirings as GM.

I have no idea if Asst GM is a higher profile position than Director of Baseball Ops? Must be the value of the Canadian dollar that convinced Sartori to bolt for the border.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | September 13, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Director of Baseball Operations to an Assistant GM? Sounds like a promotion to me. Nats already have an Asst. GM and Rizzo is going to be here for a while, so maybe this is nothing more than someone taking advantage of an opportunity.

I would agree that it would be a good thing for AK to ask about though.

Posted by: TimDz | September 13, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree that this could be a person that got a great opportunity someplace else. But if we see a couple of more shifts with people leaving in the next month there may be something here.

Posted by: Golfersal | September 13, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Repost from previous thread:


ED...the Nats payroll has gone up almost $30 mil since 2007.
Posted by: LosDoceOcho | September 13, 2010 2:43 PM

It's up $24 million from '07. Which is good, but not good enough. Posted by: Kev29 | September 13, 2010 2:54 PM

Los and Kev,

Let's look at the numbers, shall we? Ted Lerner took over the during during the 2006 season, so the opening day payroll reflects the actions of MLB as a whole, when all the owners owned the Nats:

Opening Day payrolls
(Major League contracts plus pro-rated signing bonuses):
2010: $ 66,275,000
2009: $ 60,328,000
2008: $ 54,961,000
2007: $ 37,347,500
2006: $ 63,143,000

So 2010 is the first year that Lerner has outspent the MLB owners, when they owned the Nats. Moreover, the increase in payroll since 2006 has been a whopping 5 percent! Since payrolls across baseball have gone up more than 5 percent since 2006, one could say that Lerner has never caught up with MLB owners in overall payroll, whether you adjust for increases in payroll since 2006 or whether you just adjust for inflation.

My source is Cot's: http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/washington-nationals_01.html

Kev and Los, what you both did was take the first year dip in payroll in 2007, which is the first year of Nats' ownership under Lerner, and then showed the improvement of almost $30 million from that one exceptionally low point. But that's using the one really down year as a basis for improvement. That year was an aberration. Since 2006, adjusting for inflation, you see no improvement. In more recent years, you see some improvement, but not much, adjusting for inflation.

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

It depends on what Sartori wants to do as to whether or not this is a step up. If he wants to be GM, of course. Director of Ops is about as high as you can go on the baseball side without the GM as part of your title.

Posted by: deacondrake | September 13, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

EdDC: Those figures are interesting, thanks for posting. Two points:

1. The Lerners didn't own the team for the first couple of years, so it is appropriate to use the lower number as the base. Assuming you don't want to overpay people just to have a high total payroll, and accepting that top-shelf FA's don't generally come to crappy teams, nearly doubling the payroll between 2007 and 2010 is not too terrible.

2. The 2010 number includes Strasburg (I assume) but not Harper.

They had a pretty aggressive winter. Let's see what happens this off-season. I think they are serious about spending to build a contender, but I'm open to being proved wrong. But let's also rememember it takes two to make a deal. Not every player you want to come here is interested. And not every player should get what he wants.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 13, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

That year was an aberration. Since 2006, adjusting for inflation, you see no improvement. In more recent years, you see some improvement, but not much, adjusting for inflation.

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 4:15 PM

I hear you, Ed. I was pretty much in disagreement with Los as well, but I guess I was trying to find some sort of bright side.

Every offseason is an acid test for the Lerners. We'll only know in April (well, September '11, really) if they've allowed Rizzo to spend enough on the 2011 team.

P.S. - looking through those total salary listings just reminds me what a crime the Lerners committed in that Winter of 2008. Investing a paltry $54 million into a fledgling team moving into a controversial, expensive new stadium? They should have offered the moon to Torii Hunter in that free agency period to be the face of the franchise. Instead we got Willie Harris for $800k and one of the most embarrassing seasons in recent MLB history :-/

Posted by: Kev29 | September 13, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm, rats jumpin ship. Things are looking glum in NatsTown. Fear not friends, a few months ago it looked like the local football team would be locked in eternal loser-dom. Of course all of that ended last night, so visions of sugar plums are now dancing in those heads. Can it be that over the winter the LernerStank and Ratzo will have a come to Moses meeting and decide its time to stop stealing money from the dwindling fan base and field a team that at the very least will entertain? Only your hairdresser will know for sure

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 13, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

EdDC posed a question to me in the last thread re season tickets. Shortly after that Kev 29 said "I'm a little more optimistic that the Lerners will open the checkbook up in the long run, but try telling that to a casual fan after they let Dunn go to free agency." I have watched all or most of at least 130 games this year (several in the park but most on TV including MLB gameday when I've been out of town). This is typical for me since baseball returned to DC, but I did not previously follow baseball closely, having never lived in a city that had a team. I guess I am properly described as a casual, albeit passionate, fan. Kev29 has described my reaction fairly well--the fact is that if they run Dunn off, I will have zero belief that they are going to field a winning team any time in the next several years. So no, a low end payroll will not likely keep me as a ST holder. I have no faith that they will spend wisely or that they want to field a serious team. I expect I will drop my tickets this year. If I see significant progress in the future I may pick them up again. I do not expect it will be difficult to get them because the way the owners are strangling the team their ST base is going to be minuscule. I really hope they don't kill baseball in DC.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 13, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

2. The 2010 number includes Strasburg (I assume) but not Harper.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 13, 2010 4:25 PM

Strasburg and Harper, when considering what star veteran players earn, are both insignificant to total MLB payrolls. Put both of their 2011 salaries together and that sum is less than what Jason Marquis makes.

Strasburg and Harper were mandatory, no question about it deals that had to be done. And though everyone oohs and ahhs over their first contracts, but it's small potatoes in the big picture (especially when you consider how much they will make for the Lerners in return).

Posted by: Kev29 | September 13, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Kev, the Strasburg and Harper deals were the necessary cost of doing business in MLB. You get the #1 pick, you take the best guy, regardless of cost.

But, to further elaborate on their signings, they committed $25.4 Million to Harper and Strasburg. It's money that is well spread out. Strasburg's is spread out through 2012, and Harper's through 2015. In fact, the Nats will have only paid $8.65M by the end of this season. It's barely more than Marquis' 2010 salary.

Posted by: comish4lif | September 13, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Meridian,

Yep, you are right that many players will not want to come here. That's why I was hoping for Dunn, who did seem eager to stay.

When you used 2007 as the beginning year, that was the lowest figure since Montreal had a payroll of over 35 million in 2001. Here's the total picture. The Nats are using low payrolls, the new ballpark, and compensation from wealthy clubs as a way to generate profits. I would rather see them compete on the field, not just on the balance sheets. I do believe Mark Lerner will be a lot better than Ted Lerner, since Mark is learning from Ted Leonsis. We will have better days ahead.

Washington Nationals

A group led by Ted Lerner bought the Nationals for $450M in May, 2006.
Major League Baseball had purchased the franchise formerly known as the Expos for $120M in 2002.

Opening Day payrolls
(Major League contracts plus pro-rated signing bonuses):
2010: $ 66,275,000
2009: $ 60,328,000
2008: $ 54,961,000
2007: $ 37,347,500
2006: $ 63,143,000
2005: $ 48,581,500
2004: $ 41,197,500
2003: $ 51,948,500
2002: $ 38,670,500
2001: $ 35,159,500
2000: $ 33,500,000

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Kind of like stealing your football team from Cleveland, huh?

Posted by: TreezieFoSheezie | September 13, 2010 4:44 PM
=====

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA.

You'd be right except for the fact that I'm a fan of the REDSKINS.

HAHAHAHAHHAHAA. What's that saying about people who make assumptions?

Suck on that one time!!!


Oh, and you know your team has to be in the sh!tter, especially if someone is leaving to join the only MLB team that is in Canada. You know your team is on a fast, downward spiral when you drive executives OUT OF THE COUNTRY.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 13, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

"Yep, you are right that many players will not want to come here. That's why I was hoping for Dunn, who did seem eager to stay."

He's eager to stay if he gets a four year deal. But why should he get that from any team? Second year now of declining production. Only 38 HR last year, with only one of them after 9/11. If he repeats that feat this year, he'll finish with only 35. And my, wasn't his performance great on this last home stand. Look at Saturday. Two errors, and a particularly ugly K with two men on in front of him in the 9th, when a homer would have tied the game. Why is it we'd want four more years of that?

Posted by: nunof1 | September 13, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

nunof1, very selective math you're using there to determine that Dunn is going to hit 35 homers this year. That's a pretty weak argument. His numbers aren't declining, they're very similar to last year. At this point in his career, he is what his record says he is.

Here's the real question for you and everybody else. Lots of people are skeptical that Dunn will get a four year deal elsewhere. I'm not so sure, given that some of the teams who would be interested in him are big revenue teams like the Cubs, Angels, and White Sox. I think he has a pretty good chance of getting a four year deal.

How many think he gets three years and how many think he gets four?

Posted by: baltova1 | September 13, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I think he'll be offered three years. Whether he takes three is another question.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | September 13, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

So want to see Dunn sign with the O's, if for nothing more than to stick it to Natinal fans.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 13, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Most reports are that Dunn would be willing to do a 3 year deal with the Nats, although of course he would prefer 4. I would expect that he will easily get a 3 year, and it would not surprise me if he gets 4 (not here, of course). And yes, nonof, your math is extremely selective, and it is more than a little strange to talk about "only" hitting 38 home runs! Would that our team were plagued with such lousy home run production! Dunn is as solid as they come, and will be for years yet. Both Septembers he has been with our team have been meaningless, which does not exactly result in the level of play a postseason run would see.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 13, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Some interesting snippets from Tim Britton on mlb.com...
> The Braves are 6-6 against the Nationals this season (4-2 at Turner Field).
> Washington has a Team ERA of 3.15 vs. the Braves this year (4.15 for season).
> The Braves are hitting .235 against the Nationals this year (.262 for season).

Posted by: BinM | September 13, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

BinM, and the pessimist concludes "the Braves are due".

As far as Dunn goes, I just think he's 30 years old, this is his best chance at a big contract, and he's going to go where the money is. And more than likely, that means to the American League. He's not going to get the best financial offer from the Nats. We'll come in 2nd or 3rd.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 13, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Dunn would need 4 years to play with the Nats, but would take 3 years to play with a contending club? Age 34 is not really too old, if it is the last year of a 4 year contract. Pudge's season at age 34 was his last one that he hit .300. Good players usually do not fall of a cliff at 34. Several of us have provided examples.

The Nats probably have to overpay for anybody--not just because they are a last place team, but you have to outbid everyone in free agency. The best deal probably could be had when a player is still on your club.

I guess my worry is that the Nats will let Dunn go, figuring they can do better. Then they see the bidding for someone like Carl Crawford (moving Morse to 1B if they sign Crawford) going up well beyond what they are willing to pay. So then the Nats will sign an older guy at 1B to take Dunn's place, all because Dunn will be 34 at the end of a 4-year contract. As a guess, the new player will probably be older than Dunn is now.

Anyway, Boswell says Dunn would take 3 years. Who knows?

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

@NatsFly:
As much as I'd love to see Dunn sign with the Nationals, it probably won't happen for one reason - money. Until we see it happen, I don't believe that the Lerners' are really willing to part with $14-16M to sign (or re-sign, in this case) any Free Agent player.

Oh sure, the offers for Chapman & Teixiera exceeded that, but those were just that - offers; Nobody put ink on a contract. Dunn might have asked for a 4-year deal, and would settle for three years, but the asking price is probably between $14-16M+/yr. The Lerners' are currently unwilling to allot more than $10M/yr average to any employee, regardless of credentials.

Posted by: BinM | September 13, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, I can't see the Cubs giving anybody a four-year contract right now, and the LAA-A-CA and White Sox are not going to let him play first, not for four years anyway, so I don't know how much that will sway him.
I don't think he will be worth upwards of $10MM in 2014, but I don't think he has to be, to be worth signing. If he's worth it in years 1 and 2, and not killing them in year 3, they'll be able to handle the payroll hit he'll represent, because they'll have been winning.
And if they aren't winning before then, I won't care because I'll be following the Giants again, even if it is 3 hours off.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 13, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

"Are these departures on the baseball side indicative of a morale problem?"

I only see one departure, a guy who got a clearly better job. Did I miss others?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 13, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh, you're including Dana Brown, last year.
Nevermind.
(but it's a stretch to link them, IMO)

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 13, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

"Anyway, Boswell says Dunn would take 3 years. Who knows?"

Dunn knows. He said he wants four years, just last week. Maybe we should sign Boswell for three years instead. How many STH will he pull in? How many HR will he hit?

WASHINGTON -- Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn said Tuesday there hasn't been any progress on a contract extension, although his agent, Greg Genske, and the club continue to talk.
Dunn is in the last year of a two-year, $20 million contract with the Nationals, and he is looking to get a four-year deal.

"If we can't get something done, obviously, I would like to see what my option are," Dunn said to MLB.com. "I want to stay in one place. It's something I want to do. I never asked for anything like [a four-year deal] ever in my career. It's one thing that I want -- the longer-term contract. That's all I ask for."

Posted by: nunof1 | September 13, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, "looking to get" a 4-year deal might be a little different than accepting a 3 year deal. To me, I don't have to have Dunn back, but I'll miss him if the Nats have a weaker line-up next season. There's no quote in there that says he has to have four years no matter what. Boswell may have good inside info or he may be misled.

Of course Dunn "wants" 4 years. The numbers being tossed around will probably leak out at some point, after Dunn signs somewhere. For now I still say: who knows?

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

A good career move for the young man. Every executive wants the opportunity to work for a MLB club and now he'll get chance. No brainer! Good luck Jay!

Posted by: jwing14 | September 13, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

"Good players usually do not fall of a cliff at 34. Several of us have provided examples."

Looking forward four years, falling off a cliff is not the big concern. The gradual decline is, though. 40 HR in 2008. 38 in 2009. 35-36 in 2010. 33-34 in 2011. 31-32 in 2012. 29-30 in 2013. 27-28 in 2014. When all you're bringing to the table is the long ball threat, that's hardly enough.

Dunn right now is in the same position as Soriano was in 2006. Playing for the long term contract, if not here then somewhere else. Soriano responded by having a career year, getting a good offer from the Nats (5 yr/$75M IIRC) but spurning it in a gamble to get more elsewhere. It ended up paying off for him.

Dunn OTOH is beginning to show signs of decline. If he's smart, he'll take the good offer the Nats will make him at arbitration - two years for sure, probably three - because he's not going to get four years anywhere else. He couldn't even get four years two years ago when he was younger and had better numbers. Why would he get it now?

Posted by: nunof1 | September 13, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

nunoff,

You can see into the future very precisely. So who do you see batting clean-up next season?

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Cleanup next season? Dunn, if he'll sign a two or three year deal. Otherwise someone else.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 13, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Who wants to go to the Jays?

They are in an impossible division in which they are never going to be better than fourth given that free agents don't want to pay Canadian taxes.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | September 14, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

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