Time For Panik Citi
With Robinson Cano likely down for the rest of the year, the Mets need to figure out what they’re going to do at second base. While Adeiny Hechavarria and Luis Guillorme provide top level defense, their offense is lacking.
There was a chance to upgrade somewhat offensively, but Asdrubal Cabrera signed with the Nationals. As luck would have it, the Mets may have another opportunity.
In somewhat of a surprise move, the San Francisco Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment. With the Mets void at second base, it is worth investigating.
So far, this has been the worst year of Panik’s career. He has a career worst wRC+, OPS+, and WAR. It’s hard to make the case a negative WAR and sub replacement level hitter would be an improvement.
On that front, since Cano went down, the combination of Guillorme/Hechavarria/Lagares/Altherr have gone a combined 1-for-19 with three walks and seven strikeouts. No matter how bad Panik has been, he’s better than that. With Panik, there’s also some upside.
In addition to his having a career worst wRC+, he’s also had a career low .254 BABIP. With his having a career .287 BABIP this would indicate a lot of bad luck. Bad luck is further indicated when you look at Panik lowering his ground ball rate, hitting more line drives, and his hitting the ball harder. He’s also been more selective at the plate with a 9.3 perfect walk rate, which is the second best of his career.
Even with numbers indicating he should have better stats, he doesn’t, and he hasn’t for nearly 10 years now. With Scooter Gennett now a Giant, the team has moved on ftom him. They did that despite Panik playing much better defense this year.
No, he’s not the Gold Glove caliber there anymore. Still, his 0 DRS is better than he’s been over the last two years, and it’s a step up from what Cano was defensively.
Looking at Panik overall, if he were on this Mets team, his 69 wRC+ would make him the best hitter out of a group including Altherr, Guillorme, Hechavarria, and Lagares. Like that group, he has a very good reputation as a fielder even if he’s just merely good at second now.
Arguably, the one thing Panik really doesn’t offer is versatility. In his career, he’s only played 9.2 innings away from second base. While a noteworthy, the Mets would be claiming Panik to play everyday. When you look at the options currently available and the chance there’s some upside in his bat, claiming Panik off waivers is a worthwhile endeavor.
Yes, the Mets should claim him. If they don’t, Panik could opt to go to another team under his own volition, or another team, like the Nationals or Phillies could claim him as a bench piece or to even try to block the surging Mets from trying to sign him. Given how much help the Mets need and their depleted depth, it’s time to make Flushing Panik Citi once again.