The New York Mets announced earlier today that they have signed second baseman Joe Panik, who was designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants earlier in the week. Panik went unclaimed through waivers today after hitting a well below average .235/.310/.317 in 388 plate appearances this season.
Panik figures to fill-in at second base for Robinson Cano down the stretch, who was recently placed on the 10-day injured list with a torn left hamstring. Panik is expected to be available to play for the Mets in tonight’s series opener against the Washington Nationals.
While he’s struggled in recent seasons, providing roughly replacement level value for the Giants in both 2018 and so far in 2019, Panik has been a roughly league average hitter as recently as the 2017 season, in which he posted 1.9 fWAR and hit .288/.347/.421 in 573 plate appearances. Panik will bring significant postseason experience with him to Queens, having won a championship with the Giants in 2014, and having hit a dramatic two-run homer in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS to help the Giants advance past the Cardinals to the 2014 World Series. Panik was an all-star during the 2015 season, in which he hit .312/.378/.455 in 432 plate appearances, and posted 3.8 fWAR in 100 games. He won a gold glove during the following season for his stellar defensive play at second base, which helped him post a 1.8 fWAR season in 2016 despite hitting just .239/.315/.379, which corresponds to an 86 wRC+, in 526 plate appearances.
Born in Yonkers, New York, and having attended St. John’s University in Queens, Panik is one of a number of players who grew up in the tri-state area to join the Mets recently. While at St. Johns in 2009, Panik played in the first ever game played at Citi Field, in which Panik’s St. Johns Red Storm faced off against the Georgetown Huskies.
To make room for Panik on the roster, the Mets have designated veteran infielder Adeiny Hechavarria for assignment. In doing so, the Mets have avoided having to pay Hechavarria the $1 million roster bonus he would have been eligible to earn if he spent 150 or more days on the active roster this season. The bonus would have kicked in on August 24.