John Schneider and Ross Atkins never stopped speaking with each other, it’s just the subject matter that has shifted over the past two weeks.
Schneider and the Blue Jays officially agreed on a new contract on Friday to make him Toronto’s manager for at least the next three years, with a team option for the 2026 season.
Schneider and Atkins, the Blue Jays general manager, said that after Toronto was eliminated from the post-season their daily conversations stopped being about winning now and instead focused on the team’s long-term plans.
“It really shifted when the season was over to ‘OK, how are we really going to tackle this’ and looking back and seeing areas that we did improve on from a preparation standpoint, performance standpoint, but also areas where we can tighten it up,” said Schneider in the bowels of Rogers Centre.
“Having open conversations with Ross and hearing his feedback and input and hearing mine from a different vantage point and then arriving at a place where we think it’s best for the team and for the organization.
“That’s where it shifted from trying to win tonight to trying to win for the future, for a lot of years in a row.”
Schneider was promoted from bench coach to interim manager after Charlie Montoyo was fired on July 13. He led the Blue Jays to a 46-28 record and the post-season, but Toronto was swept in the three-game wild-card series by the Seattle Mariners.
Atkins said that removing Schneider’s interim tag was a completely different circumstance than hiring Montoyo, when the Blue Jays interviewed several different candidates. This time, it was an ongoing discussion about how to improve on Toronto’s 10-9 playoff exit to Seattle on Oct. 8.
“All of our energy was deployed towards winning each night and so to be able to pull back and think about things from a bigger lens perspective was very helpful for us and felt productive for John as well,” said Atkins.
Continuity into 2023
The Blue Jays finished the season second in the American League East standings and first in the wild-card race with a 92-70 record. Most of Toronto’s roster will stay in place next year and Schneider said his coaching staff will likely go untouched.
“You’re always trying to evolve and tweak things, whether it’s the way you get prepared for a game, the way you communicate with players, the way you communicate with staff,” said Schneider. “It’s been really fun over the last week or so to talk with Ross and our front office group and how we’re going to try to approach that and the things we’re going to put in place to try to make our whole process better.”
Schneider is the 14th manager in franchise history. His .622 winning percentage is the highest ever by a Toronto manager — with a minimum of 10 games managed — in his first season at the helm.
A 42-year-old native of Princeton, N.J., Schneider was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2002 as a catcher and played six minor-league seasons before transitioning to coach.
He later managed at five different levels in the Blue Jays organization from 2009-18, winning championships with Class-A Vancouver, Advanced-A Dunedin, and Double-A New Hampshire. Schneider joined the big-league coaching staff in 2019 and was promoted to bench coach before the 2022 season.
Schneider said that becoming a manager at the Major League level became a goal just as his “very mediocre playing career” came to an end.
“It was the end goal, understanding that it may not have been with the organization I was working with,” said Schneider. “But I think it makes it that much more special to be sitting here with this hat on, with this jersey on. To be here now is pretty cool.”