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Three Mets players who could return in 2020 with lesser roles

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 11: Joe Panik #2 of the New York Mets in action against the Washington Nationals during their game at Citi Field on August 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 11: Joe Panik #2 of the New York Mets in action against the Washington Nationals during their game at Citi Field on August 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – AUGUST 17: Joe Panik #2 of the New York Mets hits a RBI single in the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Joe Panik

I have a tough time seeing the Mets keeping Joe Panik for the 2020 season. It will be his final year of arbitration eligibility, meaning he’s probably headed toward a decent payday. For the lesser role he would play, it’s hard to envision him on the bench making $4-5 million next season.

Panik isn’t ideal for the Mets because of his limited experience on defense. Since debuting in 2014, he has only ventured away from second base once. A single start at first base for the 2018 San Francisco Giants is the lone game away from the position he usually calls home. The Mets already have two second basemen on their roster with Jeff McNeil likely to play a corner outfield spot or third base next year and Robinson Cano getting the starts.

Panik has hit well with the Mets, but the small sample size and limited opportunities to contribute next year make him a poor match. He’d be a luxury to have. And even with an extra roster spot beginning next season, I don’t believe it’s best used on a guy who struggled over the past few seasons and doesn’t offer much versatility.

At the right price, Panik should remain with his “hometown team.” There is a way to make this happen a little more easily.

Just because Panik is arbitration-eligible doesn’t mean the Mets need to increase his salary. A multi-year contract with a lower AAV is one direction they could go. A riskier plan could be to non-tender the veteran infielder then look to re-sign him when the market doesn’t come calling. This latter choice would require Panik to harbor no ill-will toward the Mets. I’m not so sure it’s possible.

Either way, Panik is someone the team should consider for a bench role next year. Finding room and playing time may be difficult. Having him as a backup plan, however, could save them from going out and needing to acquire another guy of his ilk later in the year.

Next. Three possible roles for J.D. Davis in 2020

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Which of these Mets players would you like to see return in a lesser role next season?

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