TORONTO—The blue jays formalized what was long overdue.
John Schneider will return as team manager next year and beyond, the last stage of a steady rise through the 42-year-old’s organization over the past two decades, from minor league player to coach to now leading a major league team with championship aspirations.
“It’s a dream scenario for me,” Schneider said, wearing his Blue Jays jersey as he sat next to Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins atop the podium in the conference room at press from the Rogers Center on Friday.
Early in the day, the club announced that they had agreed to the terms with Schneider on a three-year contract until the 2025 season with a club option for 2026.
A multi-year pact between Schneider and the Blue Jays always seemed like the most likely outcome when he took over as interim manager on July 13 after the team fired Charlie Montoyo. The team went 46-28 under Schneider’s leadership. And it seemed particularly likely earlier this month when Atkins told reporters “it’s going to be very hard for us to find better than John Schneider” during his end-of-season media availability.
As is the nature of the club, the front office wanted to go through a formal process before making a final decision. This process, which Atkins called “powerful”, happened in the 12 days after the end of the season, as Atkins and Schneider exchanged their visions for the club’s future. Outside candidates were discussed, but in the end, the Blue Jays decided that Schneider was the best person for the job.
As Schneider becomes the 14th manager in franchise history, he brings with him deep personal connections throughout the organization and a sense of continuity for a team that seemed to have hit its stride once he took over. took over.
“John has really earned the respect and trust of all of us here,” Atkins said. “It’s one thing to support people, it’s another to make people feel supported. He does it authentically in a way that I find exceptional. That, combined with his baseball acumen, his expertise and his experiences in baseball, and then thinking about the fact that he’s been here for over 20 years as a Toronto Blue Jay, having him in charge of an already very cohesive group gives me, and gives us, great confidence that this organization will continue in a very positive direction by bringing the championships back to this country.
Happy to have Schneids back!! 💪🏻💪🏻 https://t.co/cG25l0Ribt
— Kevin Gausman (@KevinGausman) October 21, 2022
When Schneider took over as caretaker manager mid-season, the team focused solely on improving what had been a lackluster performance up to that point. Thus, the front office and Schneider spent no time discussing its long-term future.
This process has instead unfolded over the past two weeks as Schneider and Atkins worked on what their long-term relationship would look like as the roles of general manager and field manager have become intertwined in baseball. modern. Schneider called those conversations exciting and respected the thoroughness with which the team made their decision.
“You’re so locked in trying to win every night in a pretty unique circumstance that takes over in the middle of the season,” Schneider explained. “We had brief discussions about things that we think we can improve on and I think those really changed at the end of the season: ‘OK, how are we really going to approach this?’ And looking back and seeing the areas where we’ve improved, from a preparation standpoint, from a performance standpoint, but also areas where we can tighten it up, so I think I’m having open conversations with Ross and hearing his comments and feedback and hearing mine from a sometimes different perspective, and then getting to a place where we think it’s best for the team and for the organization.
Atkins added: “Having the exchange to talk about opportunities, alignment or not, we felt it was best to work in a respectful and thorough manner given the magnitude of the decision for the organization and also the best for John.
Schneider retired from the game in 2008 after six seasons as a minor league catcher and immediately turned to coaching. It was Dick Scott, then the team’s farm manager, who first gave him the opportunity to join the rookie-level Gulf Coast League team as a catching instructor. Schneider had always envisioned a future in baseball. Even when he took his first coaching job, he envisioned becoming a big league coach.
“When I turned the page on a very mediocre playing career in minor league practice, that was the end goal,” he said, along with his wife, Jess, and his two sons, Gunner (5) and Greyson (3), seated in the front row. “Understanding that might not happen with the organization I worked with, but I think it’s even more special to be sitting here with this hat, with this shirt.”
Beginning in 2008, Schneider steadily rose through the ranks of the team’s minor league system as manager, then spent the last three and a half years in Toronto as a coach before taking over from Montoyo. Over the years, Schneider said he grew as a manager, gaining in particular empathy for the difficulty of the game and an appreciation for knowing the person behind the player. Throughout his career, he has managed some of the team’s most prominent players, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and many more.
These personal connections helped him make a seamless transition to the lead role in July. Through his approach to communication – he called himself an “open book” – Schneider inaugurated his own style of responsibility and worked to make the team a more cohesive unit. The end result was a team that played to a .622 clip, a 101 full-season win tempo. In the dugout, Schneider introduced a more aggressive handling style, particularly on the base paths and in the way he deployed his relievers. And, in Schneider, the Blue Jays have a manager who combines data with game savvy.
“One of the many great things about John is his preparation which allows him to be nimble in a game. There’s so much work done before you think about all the different assumptions. ‘ them. We certainly try to do that when we get the chance,” Atkins said. “But agility is huge and being able to build on your experiences and ultimately trust your process to make decisions on moment has to be there and it was obvious to us that he was ready to have that confidence to be agile.”
After the Blue Jays ended the season in disappointment with a sweep of Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card series, Schneider delivered a heartfelt message to his team about using the moment to motivate them. It seemed to strike a nerve with everyone who heard it and players were eager to see Schneider return.
“I couldn’t be happier to have Schneider back as manager” Tim Mayza, who first met Schneider in 2013 when he was his manager at GCL, said in a text. “He’s worked hard to get this far and (his hire) is very well deserved. I’m looking forward to getting back to work next season with Schneider at the helm.
After his managerial status was finalized on Thursday night, Schneider said he spoke to several of his players over the phone.
“Their reactions were great,” Schneider said. “It’s cool to have these conversations with guys you know and trust. They were super excited for me, about as excited as I was to lead them and the rest of the band. … They’re like a family to me.
With Schneider as coach, the club will work to finalize the coaching staff for next season, many of whom have worked with Schneider over the past four seasons. When asked, Schneider said he expected “everyone (to come back) to some degree”, but the club are still making decisions. Notably, Casey Candaele is on the staff on an interim basis as a bench coach, taking over after Schneider’s promotion.
For two and a half months, the Blue Jays got a taste of what Schneider was like as a manager. They liked what they saw. Now it’s up to him to lead a group hungry for victories next year and beyond.
“Over the course of the season, how close this group has become and how comfortable they have become with each other just in the clubhouse and on the pitch is something on which you absolutely have to lean on,” Schneider said. “When it comes to the courts, it’s extremely difficult to be the last team out of 30 standing and you’re going to be disappointed if you’re not every year. … Some experiences that both players, staff, everyone have had this season with the playoffs included will help us improve for next year. And when you talk about a young core group that’s already won together, that’s hungry to do more, even if a bad ending when you don’t win, I think that’s really good for the year next. ”
(Top photo: John E. Sokolowski/USA Today)