Longosz’s formal title is not yet determined and the move is not yet official, but he will effectively replace De Jon Watson, who was the Nationals’ director of player development the past two seasons. Watson learned he wouldn’t return the day after Washington’s season ended.
Longosz served as the team’s assistant director of scouting operations in 2014 before he was promoted to director. Now he will be tasked with improving a minor league system that has made significant progress in the past two seasons.
The Nationals have spent the fall revamping their scouting department and player development staff. Johnny DiPuglia, Washington’s longtime international scouting director, resigned in early September. Kris Kline, who had been the team’s scouting director since 2009, was moved to a new position. Additionally, 12 members of the scouting department were informed that their contracts wouldn’t be renewed and at least eight minor league coaches were told the same.
Rizzo opted to bring in some outside voices to bolster the team’s amateur scouting operation. Danny Haas was hired away from the Arizona Diamondbacks to be Washington’s vice president of amateur scouting. Brad Ciolek, who previously worked with the Baltimore Orioles, will serve as Washington’s senior director of amateur scouting.
Only Reed Dunn, who was hired earlier this year as an assistant director of scouting and national crosschecker, had previous experience with the Nationals. He began his career with Washington in 2007, but left to join the Atlanta Braves.
Two of Rizzo’s three main hires have been internal, though: Longosz and Fausto Severino, who will be the new international scouting director. Severino has worked under DiPuglia since 2009 and most recently served as his director of Latin American scouting.
Longosz, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, will be tasked with revamping the minor league staff, while also continuing to grow the organization’s use technology and data.
The sweeping staffing changes come as several top prospects inch closer to the majors. That group includes first-round draft picks Brady House and Dylan Crews, as well as James Wood and Robert Hassell III, who both arrived in the Juan Soto trade.
Manager Dave Martinez’s major league coaching staff is also in the midst of an overhaul after four coaches were let go. Gerardo Parra, a fan favorite during Washington’s 2019 World Series run, will serve as first base coach next season and Ricky Gutierrez will be Washington’s third base coach, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.
Parra, retired in 2022 and joined Rizzo’s staff as a special assistant. Now Parra, 36, will have more of a hands-on role.
Gutierrez, 53, was named the run prevention coordinator ahead of the 2023 season, a newly-created position that focused on helping the development of shortstop CJ Abrams and second baseman Luis García. Abrams took major strides last season defensively, though García’s performance plateaued.
Decisions on Victor Robles, roster await
The Nationals on Thursday declined their club option on outfielder Victor Robles for 2024. Before last season, Robles and the Nationals agreed on a $2.325 million salary for 2023 and a $3.3 million club option for 2024.
But Robles injured his back in early May and missed most of the 2023 season. The Nationals likely believe that he’ll earn less than $3.3 million in arbitration as a result, which is why declining the option makes sense from a team perspective. Now Washington has to decide if it will tender him a contract.
Robles hit .299 with a 110 OPS+ in 2023, showing promise at the plate in the 36 games he did appear in. And most of the Nationals’ top outfield prospects are in Class AA Harrisburg, so there’s an argument to keep Robles for next season as long as he’s healthy. But if the Nationals believe their top outfield prospects are close to the majors, they could let Robles go and keep Jacob Young in center field to open next season.
The Nationals currently have 41 players on their 40-man roster, after they outrighted five players to Class AAA Rochester. Four of the five — Victor Arano, Travis Blankenhorn, Michael Chavis and Blake Rutherford — elected major league free agency. The fifth, Hobie Harris, is now a minor league free agent. Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. is Washington’s lone free agent, so he doesn’t count toward the team’s total. The Nationals have to get their roster to 40 players by Monday, though the team could clear more space for Rule 5 Draft protections.