Joe Panik will be out for the next six weeks after thumb surgery, but the San Francisco Giants second baseman is a possible extension candidate after the season.
Panik should be offered a new contract. He has shown since his call up in 2014 that he can be a Gold Glove infielder while also hitting at the top of the San Francisco Giants lineup.
Meanwhile, San Francisco will have to weigh this decision against the other contracts still on the books and the possible mega extension to Madison Bumgarner.
While Bumgarner will be the likeliest extension candidate after the season, Panik should be signed before Opening Day as well.
Panik will be entering his second year of arbitration. He was awarded a one year deal for $3.45 million in his first year of arbitration. The Giants have a history of offering extensions to core players to buy out their arbitration years.
A player typically takes two seasons to reach arbitration and then is arbitration eligible for the next four seasons. After those six years, they are eligible for free agency.
Former players like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, and Sergio Romo were all given multi year deals before they reached free agency. Current players like Pablo Sandoval, Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were all given extensions as well.
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One interesting trend from the Giants is to offer players about what they would have made in arbitration during those seasons and then buying into their free agency.
Crawford, Panik’s double play partner, was offered a contract at the same point as Panik is in now. After one year of arbitration where Crawford made $3.175 million, he was offered an extension. Crawford made $5.8 million in the first year of the deal, followed by $8 million and now the $15 million he currently makes.
Belt, after playing on three straight one year deals, finally received an extension heading into his last year of arbitration. In Belt’s case, he actually made less money in his first year of the extension, followed by his current yearly salary of $17.2 million.
Panik’s extension should be similar to Belt and Crawford’s contracts. After a couple seasons of modest pay raises, he should be in a similar bracket for a few seasons into his free agency.
According to Baseball Prospectus, have $128 million committed to players next season. The Giants would be wise to lock up Panik to not only keep one of their best young players for years to come, but to also know what it will cost.
If Panik was to be offered a similar deal to Crawford and Belt, he could make about $5-10 million in 2019 and 2020 and then start making $15 million or so in 2021.
Posey, Belt and Crawford would all be in the last year of their deals in 2021 and Panik and Longoria would be the only long term deals remaining. Assuming Bumgarner also signs an extension this off-season, the team will have the flexibility at that time to keep whoever they choose and add where they need to.
The uncertainty of going year to year with a player through all four years or arbitration is you might end up having to pay a steep price by the last two years. The team avoided that with Posey, Bumgarner, Cain, and others.
They should do the same for Joe Panik.