The New York Mets will have a chance to keep Joe Panik as a reserve player in 2020, but his limited abilities and expected salary will likely encourage them to move on.
The addition of Joe Panik to the New York Mets roster this summer was not a franchise-changing decision. While Panik filled in admirably during the absence of Robinson Cano, he didn’t do anything more than supply them with a big-league bat at second base. While he did look better in New York than he did during his 103 games with the San Francisco Giants, there’s not much room for Panik beyond this season.
Panik is still arbitration-eligible for another year so the Mets can control him in 2020. Yet to reach 30 years of age, we can consider him a young bat capable of rebounding in the future. A productive albeit limited stint with the Mets won’t completely shift the way they or other teams think of him. He is what he is and that’s a part-time player.
The Mets can use guys like Panik on the roster. As we’ve witnessed every year, depth is essential to a team’s success.
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Panik, however, doesn’t really fit too well with what the roster in 2020. As a left-handed hitter limited to second base, he brings little more to the table than other options they have on the team and within the organization.
We should expect Cano to start at second base for the Mets until they have no choice but to bench him. When he’s out, Jeff McNeil is the next logical choice to replace him as long as they have a good choice to take over wherever it is they plan to start McNeil in 2020. My guess is he rotates between third base and the corner outfield spots.
If I had to guess, the Mets will begin next year with Luis Guillorme as one of their main options as a backup infielder. Assuming Jed Lowrie returns healthy, we can slot him in as yet another choice. To each of their credit, they have played a variety of positions in their career. Guillorme is a plus defender and we can only hope Lowrie’s bat has life left in it.
To put it simply, Panik is a necessity now that would be great to have in the future. His plus-defense and ability to put the bat on the ball is a nice asset. Unfortunately, players who fit this description are not always the best to carry on a small bench.
For much of this season, the Mets showed the power of having players who can handle multiple positions. This is imperative for role players even more than starters. Panik can probably handle first base and maybe even third base. But again, the team has better choices for those spots.
There’s no telling what the 2020 Mets roster will look like. At least for now, non-tendering a deal to Panik seems most likely.
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Considering he made $3.8 million through arbitration this year and would earn a raise in 2020, there’s no chance we see him stick around for a limited role. Let’s enjoy what he gives this team while it lasts.