Do they have the right captain for this ship?
A month ago I didn’t think there was any chance that the Blue Jays would enter the 2022 season without Charlie Montoyo. These days, I’m starting to think I was wrong.
When Montoyo was originally hired in October of 2018 it was a three-year deal with a club option for the fourth season. The Blue Jays picked up that option back in March of this year, so he’s already under contract for 2022 whether you like it or not.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Blue Jays will bring him back. Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro had a lot of great things to say about Montoyo’s work back in March, but that was also before the 2021 campaign had even began. It’s also very common to avoid a “lame duck” contract year for a manager, and exercising Montoyo’s option gave him some job security beyond this season. I’m sure their opinion of the man and his work hasn’t changed that drastically, but I believe that the situation in Toronto has evolved a fair bit.
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The Blue Jays obvious meant business when the signed George Springer to a 6-year, 150 million dollar contract last winter, but I’m not sure many believed they could be a real World Series contender in 2021, which might be a step that was a year or so away. Since then the young core of this club has changed the narrative, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. becoming a franchise player and legitimate MVP candidate, and Bo Bichette earning his first All-Star appearance. Add in a best case scenario signing with the roll of the dice on a Marcus Semien bounce-back, and another step forward for Robbie Ray into the elite stratosphere of starting pitchers, and the pieces really started coming together.
As I mentioned earlier, the Blue Jays will have some tough decisions with Ray and Semien, but for the most part they’ll return the same core in 2022 and hope for a lot better health from Springer, and from the bullpen. Now that we’ve witnessed the potential from this core group, the expectation in 2022 and going forward will be to win. Montoyo has been lauded in many circles as a great manager in helping young players reach their potential, but the Blue Jays are starting to move past that stage.
Maybe that is a real strength for Montoyo, and you could make an argument that he’s been a big plus when it comes to helping guys like Guerrero Jr. and Bichette adjust to life in the big leagues. However, there have been a lot of questionable decisions from the third-year skipper, especially lately, and I know the fan base has been throwing a lot of blame in his direction lately. That may be unfair with the way the Blue Jays run things in a collaborative approach, but he’s still the face of the in-game decision making.
More importantly, the Blue Jays front office knows that missing the playoffs this season will be viewed as a disappointment, and it’s possible that they feel the need to hold someone accountable. If that’s the case, Montoyo’s job might not be as secure as it was a month or two ago, exercised option or not.
With 43 games left in the regular season and just 4.5 games between the Blue Jays and a Wild Card spot, the first focus has to be on trying to make a comeback and go on a hot streak. However, the front office always has to be thinking a few steps ahead, and there are several questions that still need answers.