Former San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik has joined the Toronto Blue Jays on a minor league deal. Can he resurrect his career?
The 29-year-old was hitting just .235/.310/.317 for a brutal 69 OPS+ in 388 plate appearances when he was designated for assignment and eventually given his outright release on Aug. 7.
Two days later he joined the New York Mets, and his performance down the stretch provided some hope that he could again be a productive MLB player.
In 39 games with the Mets, he hit .277/.333/.404 with seven extra-base hits in 103 plate appearances, good for a 98 OPS+ and 0.3 WAR during that small sample size.
With veterans like Brian Dozier, Jason Kipnis and Ben Zobrist all still unsigned, it’s been a rough market for free-agent second basemen, so it was not surprising to see Panik forced to settle for a minor league deal.
It’s hard to see Panik winning a starting job in Toronto with the young duo of Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette locked into the starting middle infield spots, but he should have a decent chance of winning a roster spot.
The only backup middle infield options on the 40-man roster are Breyvic Valera and Santiago Espinal. The versatile Brandon Drury can play all over the place, and he’s a lock for a roster spot, but the team will likely look to carry at least one other infielder.
Valera is a .223/.294/.298 hitter over 138 plate appearances at the MLB level, while Espinal has yet to make his MLB debut.
All things considered, Toronto is as good a landing spot as any for Panik as he looks to get his career back on track.
Veteran Eric Sogard enjoyed a career renaissance last year after joining the Blue Jays on a minor league deal during the offseason. It’s not out of the question to think that Panik could follow a similar path in 2020.