Blue Jays: Predicting a two-year deal for John Schneider

Oct 1, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider in the dugout before the start of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider in the dugout before the start of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Blue Jays have a decision to make about who is going to manage the club in 2023 and beyond, but keeping John Schneider is the most likely outcome if you ask me, and I’m just fine with that.

GM Ross Atkins spoke to the media a week ago, and while he didn’t make a hard commitment to Schneider’s future as the bench boss in Toronto, he did hint that it’s very likely that he’ll return in the same role he finished the season. Schneider took over after Charlie Montoyo was fired on July 13th, and the Blue Jays performed very well under his leadership, charging back into the postseason race and finishing as the top Wild Card seed with a 92-70 record.

Despite the fact that the Blue Jays were 46-28 with Schneider as their manager, there are some folks who believe that the way the season ended might be enough for the front office to look elsewhere to fill the role. Hindsight is always 20/20, but the skipper’s use of Tim Mayza in Game 2 after removing Kevin Gausman is the decision that has faced the most criticism, and with good reason. Without rehashing the whole thing, Santana’s three-run homer was enough to shift the momentum and change the game, which ultimately ended with a historic comeback from the Mariners, and a ticket home for the Blue Jays after being eliminated from the playoffs.

While I understand that fans were and even still are upset about the way the Blue Jays’ season ended, I don’t think the club should overreact as far as the blame game goes. Even if they do, I’m not sure that Schneider should be the guy with the target on his back anyway. That’s a topic for another day, but I think it’s far more important to look at the whole body of his work, and more importantly, the relationships that he has established with the Blue Jays’ core.

To me, the most encouraging sign that Schneider is the right guy is the way that Bo Bichette performed down the stretch of the season. The entire roster performed better of course, but Bichette was on another level as he slashed .337/.378/.543 with 10 home runs, 23 doubles, and 43 RBI in just 267 at-bats. That also included a remarkable performance in September and October, combining to slash .406/.444/.662 with seven home runs, 11 RBI, and 27 RBI over only 133 at-bats.

I’m not going to go as far as blaming Charlie Montoyo for Bichette’s struggles in the first half of the season, but I do believe there is something special about his relationship with Schneider, which obviously made him more comfortable. The Blue Jays shortstop also made some coy comments around the time that Montoyo was dismissed, and without putting words in his mouth, I think he was very much in favour of the change in the manager’s seat. That said, he did comment that he wasn’t against the idea, so not exactly doing detective work in order to figure that out.

Bichette wouldn’t be in a position to dictate who the skipper should be, and he said as much when he was asked about it in July. That said, the Blue Jays really need to get the most out of their dynamic duo in Bo and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., among others, and Schneider has a long history of working with a sizeable portion of the core of the big league roster. That familiarity seemed to make a difference in 2022, and I’d be very surprised if Ross Atkins and company went in another direction without giving him a full season to work with.

Speaking of Atkins, it’s hard to say how long his leash in Toronto might be these days. I don’t think his job is in danger this offseason by any means, but a disappointing 2023 campaign could certainly change things. The Blue Jays are firmly in a win-now era for their franchise, and they’re starting to spend like it as well. As we’ve seen many times in baseball over the years, if ownership opens their wallets then winning become a more immediate expectation.

In my mind, it would make sense to tie Schneider and Atkins together as far as the future of this team. I’d be more than fine with giving them another opportunity or two to make significant progress toward a World Series championship, and that’s exactly what I would bet on being the plan.

With all of that in mind, I’m comfortable predicting that Schneider will be rewarded with a two-year contract. It might be a situation where the Blue Jays really only give him one full season to prove that they shouldn’t make drastic changes to the coaching staff, but I don’t think the front office will set him up as a lame-duck manager. In a worst case, if everything went wrong in 2023 and significant change was needed, paying Schneider for a second year would be a more fitting way to dismiss a long-time employee of the organization. After all, the 42 year old has been coaching in the system in various capacities since 2008, and it really wouldn’t be fair to give him one shot and then show him the door.

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To be honest, I’m surprised that the Blue Jays didn’t immediately remove the interim tag from Schneider’s title when the season ended, but maybe they knew the temperature for that decision would be more positive with a little time removed from their disappointing postseason finish. Even if things ended in disastrous fashion, I still believe that Schneider is more than deserving of another opportunity to lead this team, and I’m sure we’ll read that news some time sooner than later.