The Blue Jays made another minor move on Saturday, signing former San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik to a MiLB contract.
After beefing up their middle infield depth earlier in the week by signing Ruben Tejada, the Blue Jays brought in another experienced veteran on a MiLB contract.
On Saturday we learned that the Blue Jays had signed Joe Panik to a minor league deal including an invite to Spring Training, with Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun as the first with the news. The 29-year-old is coming off of a season split between the San Francisco Giants, his long-time team, and a sting with the New York Mets where he played 39 games to close things out.
While Panik has experienced a bit of a fall from grace, he’s not that far removed from being a productive player with the Giants. His best season was in 2015 when he was an NL All-Star and hit .312, and he was still a rock solid player in 2017 when he slashed .288/.347/.421. He’s also known as a solid defender at second base, having won a Gold Glove award in 2016.
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Things started to go downhill for him in 2018 when he hit .254 and was worth -0.1 bWAR, the first time he’d dipped into the negative during his career. When he started the 2019 season in similarly rough fashion, the Giants decided it was time to move on.
The encouraging news is that Panik finished up the 2019 campaign with a solid performance in New York. He ended up slashing .277/.333/.404 across 103 plate appearances, leaving some reason to believe in a bounce back season for the six-year veteran.
Whether or not Panik has a serious chance to make the team remains to be seen. Working against him is the fact that he’s played all but one game of his MLB career at second base, lacking the defensive flexibility that the Blue Jays have shown a fondness for, and have sought with their other additions to the roster. That said, the projected second baseman is Cavan Biggio, and he has the ability to play several different positions, giving the Blue Jays the option of moving him around if Panik’s performance warrants it.
At the end of the day, signing someone like Panik to a MiLB deal is a very worthwhile gamble. If it works out, you could have yourself another Eric Sogard type, and if not, well there’s really not much to lose with a minor league deal.