As Spring Training nears, a new rumor suggests the Mets are open to dealing one of their outfielders for more infield depth.
“I don’t know if they’ll keep Lagares or not,” Francesa noted on Tuesday. “I know the Giants want Lagares. The Mets are interested in Panik.”
Panik, of course, plays second base – a position currently occupied by veteran Asdrubal Cabrera. With the Todd Frazier signing, Cabrera is likely out of infield options to start so what would happen? Francesa added in his comments that this would likely relegate Cabrera to a utility-man role for 2018. Okay, fair enough.
Getting Panik would insure the Mets some solid play at second base through at least 2020. Since Cabrera is a free agent at the end of this year, that would be a welcome addition. In 2018, Panik will be earning $3.45 million, and he’s locked down as an arbitration-eligible player until after the 2020 campaign.
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The 27-year-old is a native New Yorker as well (shout-out to Hopewell Junction), and put up some pretty good numbers in 2017. He’s not a power bat like Cabrera, but a line of .288/.347/.421 with 10 home runs would definitely be useful for this team.
Last season, Panik had a pretty rough year with the glove at second base with a -11 DRS. Comparably speaking, in 2017, Cabrera was at -6 DRS. So while they would get younger with Panik, their up the middle defense might take a hit. Also, it could have just been a bad season for a young player who had a +2, and +3 DRS the two previous years. That’s a gamble you’d have to take.
Money will also be an issue here. The 28-year-old outfielder, Lagares, will earn $6.5 million in 2018 and is due for a raise to $9 million the following year. Will the Giants be willing to take on the whole deal or will the Mets have to pay a chunk of it to have it go through?
There’s also, of course, the question about outfield depth should the Mets deal Lagares. Right now, Michael Conforto is said to be out until May 1, so the Mets would essentially be using Brandon Nimmo as an everyday center fielder until that day comes. I like Nimmo, and think he would be a great leadoff hitter for this lineup, but he has had some injuries the past couple of seasons, so having some outfield depth behind him is necessary, in my opinion.
After Lagares and Nimmo, you’re going to have to start looking at Jose Reyes and maybe even Wilmer Flores as possible outfielders. That’s not something any of us want to see. For now, as much as I’d love to see Panik in New York, I think keeping Lagares here is the better option.