TORONTO — By his own admission, John Schneider never amounted to much as a baseball player.
On Friday, Schneider fulfilled a dream he’d pursued for 15 years since giving up on playing and choosing to coach instead.
Toronto‘s former bench coach, Schneider was named the 14th manager in Blue Jays history, signing a three-year contract with the team he led on an interim basis for 78 games last season.
“I’ve said it before, this is a dream scenario for me,” Schneider said. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation. This organization has made me feel like a family member since day one. I’m just extremely humbled and honored to lead this group and hopefully achieve our goal of winning a World Series.”
Schneider’s contract includes a team option for 2026.
Drafted by Toronto in 2002, Schneider was a minor league catcher for six seasons before becoming a minor league manager in 2009. He spent 10 seasons managing in the minors, winning championships at three levels, before joining the Blue Jays’ big league staff as major league coach in 2019. He became bench coach before the 2022 season.
“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. “I think it makes it that much more special to be sitting here with this hat and this jersey on.”
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins praised Schneider for his preparation and decision-making.
“One of the many attractive things about John is how prepared he is,” Atkins said. “That allows him to be agile in a game. Agility is huge, and being able to rely on experiences and ultimately trust your process to make decisions in the moment has to be there. It was evident to us that he was prepared to have that confidence to be agile.”
Schneider, 42, went 46-28 as interim manager after replacing Charlie Montoyo in July. Toronto finished as the top AL wild card at 92-70 but was swept out of the playoffs by visiting Seattle, blowing an 8-1 lead in the second game and losing 10-9.
“As bad as an ending is when you don’t win, I think it’s really good going forward for the next year,” Schneider said.
The Blue Jays have won 90 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since doing it three consecutive years from 1991-93, which included the franchise’s two World Series titles.
Toronto has a strong core of players under contract for 2023, including outfielder George Springer, first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., shortstop Bo Bichette and right-handers José Berríos and Kevin Gausman.
“This is a very unique opportunity and one that I’m not taking lightly,” Schneider said.
Scheider was named Eastern League Manager of the Year after his Double-A New Hampshire team won the league title in 2018. That team included current Blue Jays infielders Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio, outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and closer Jordan Romano.
“It’s cool that some of them are like family to me,” Schneider said.
Final decisions are pending on Schneider’s staff but the expectation is they’ll all be back, Atkins said. Triple-A manager Casey Candaele joined Toronto’s staff as bench coach after Schneider was promoted.
“We’re still working through all of that,” Atkins said. “I feel very good about all of their contributions and their potential contributions moving forward but don’t want to finalize anything just yet.”
Atkins said Springer, 33, who suffered a concussion in Toronto’s season-ending loss, has returned home to Connecticut but has yet to receive attention on a bone spur in his right elbow that caused him to miss the All-Star game and sit out 10 days in August.
A four-time All-Star and MVP of the 2017 World Series with Houston, Springer signed a six-year, $150 million contract with Toronto before the 2021 season.
Atkins also confirmed that Gurriel had surgery Thursday to repair a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. Gurriel is expected to recover in four to six weeks.