Bryce Harper’s contract with the Washington Nationals expires after the 2018 season. So does Daniel Murphy’s. So does Gio Gonzalez’s. The list of Nationals staples who soon will be free to sign elsewhere is long, varied and potentially franchise-altering. But the soon-to-be free agent with the most potential to change the course of the team’s future is probably President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, whose contract will expire next Oct. 31 if Nationals ownership does not extend it before then. Nationals ownership historically has been averse to long-term commitment to anyone other than players. Both sides say they have not discussed an extension yet. Will they do so before the 2018 season? More importantly, will they do so before the 2018 offseason? A few weeks ago, Nationals Managing Principal Owner Ted Lerner said he and his family would like Rizzo to stick around. “I would hope [he would return],” Lerner told The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga. “We haven’t reached that stage yet. But we would hope to continue success with him.” But if the Lerners genuinely want continued success with Rizzo, they will have to pursue him. The 56-year-old was unequivocal when asked about his contract situation, and whether he will initiate talks about a future deal. “I will not. I will allow them to talk to me if they choose to,” Rizzo said. If the Lerners want their general manager of nearly a decade to extend his tenure, they will have to say so, verbally and monetarily.