Ten days after the season ended, the decision was made. John Schneider would be the next full-time manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The contract details were worked out, the press conference was called, the interim tag scrapped, and the long-presumed finally formalized. As the team's interim manager, Schneider was the obvious choice, leading the Jays to the postseason after taking over halfway through the 2022 campaign. But the decision came down to more than wins and losses.
With his experience, approach, and unique organization longevity, Schneider was the one to trust with this Blue Jays team. The obvious fit was obvious for a reason.
“John has truly earned the respect and the trust of all of us here,” GM Ross Atkins said.
Schneider's well-documented organizational experience spans two decades and three leadership regimes. The former Blue Jay draft pick transitioned to coaching in 2008, starting out as catching instructor, and even then he had eyes on a day like Friday, when he became a permanent MLB manager.
"When I turned the page from a very mediocre playing career to coaching in the minor leagues, this was kind of the end goal," Schneider said.
When Schneider started out managing, it was easy to slide into his desire to be the loudest one and "show everyone you're in charge," the 42-year-old admitted. That kind of leader can work in some places—Schneider's teams posted above .500 records in each of his first four coaching stints. But the Blue Jays' manager learned to adapt as he climbed the organization, morphing into a versatile communicator. A leader of people, not players.
Schneider's biggest area of growth as a manager came from understanding "how hard the game is and how good the players are," he said. He focuses on having empathy for the players and their mistakes, and that helps any correction or accountability carry more weight. That nuance and genuineness are especially important at the MLB level, when player ages range from 20 to 40 and the batters and pitchers begin to make much more than the managers and coaches. You need 26 players, the front office, and an entire staff to trust you.
"He's a good mix of leader but also being one of the guys," Ross Stripling said. "But also being able to hold guys accountable."
But, there are many great leaders and effective communicators vying for baseball manager roles. One thing Schneider brings that no outside option or alternative could provide was his specific experience with much of Toronto's core. While Schneider learned how to become an MLB manager in the minors, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Santiago Espinal, Jordan Romano, Danny Jansen, and others learned how to become big leaguers beside him.
There's 'built-in equity' with those preexisting relationships, as Stripling put it, going both ways. Schneider understands the pulse of the Blue Jays, Matt Chapman said, a unique mastery of Toronto's clubhouse dynamics. He can manage up to the front office and down to the players, with both sides of the organization trusting him.
"I think he got the best out of this team," Chapman said. "I think it shows by the record that we had and I think if he had another opportunity to take us through a full season, it could be even better."
For a modern baseball manager, it's that trust that differentiates the best candidate. In 2022, accepting analytics, navigating the media, and managing a bullpen aren't traits of a good skipper, they're prerequisites for the job. It's the conversations and respect that differentiate managers from algorithms. Players can't always know what in-game move Schneider will make and the front office doesn't know how he'll approach each individual player conversation that comes up over a 162-game season. So, they have to trust him to make those calls.
Schneider, more than anyone else, has that trust. He built it during his decade of minor league managing and major league coaching, and cashed in on it during his half-season as interim manager this year. Sure, he was the one who led Toronto to a 46-28 record. But he also was the one who navigated hard conversations with Guerrero Jr. after baserunning blunders and called leadership meetings with coaches and veteran players during difficult slides.
Schneider already had the faith of Toronto's decision-makers when he was promoted to the MLB coaching staff in 2019. He had it, still, on July 13 this year, when he replaced Charlie Montoyo as manager, with an interim tag. It was someone's trust that earned him every minor promotion before Schneider sat on the podium on Friday as a full-time MLB manager.
The front office understood the gravity of this hire. It's why they didn't just call the press conference and sign the contract after the Wild Card game. They took 13 days to exhaust all options and talk on and off with Schneider about the short- and long-term future of the club. With Toronto's young core increasingly losing that youthful descriptor, the time to win is now. Whoever the Jays hired this winter would have the weight of those expectations.
The Blue Jays needed someone they trusted, and Schneider was the obvious fit.