The Yankees are reportedly in talks with Jeff Panik that would add not only a much-needed lefty bat but also a player’s player to the team. Never a more perfect fit.
The Yankees are once again about to show their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, how they will always be one step ahead of the team in Queens.
The interest is mutual, as Panik was raised in Dutchess County, an hour’s drive from Yankee Stadium and where he is spending the holidays with his close-knit family.
Joe Panik is the kind of player where you need to look beyond the numbers he’s put up over a six-year career. He’s been an All-Star, and he’s won a Gold Glove. He’s also a winner with a World Series ring (2014).
Mets asleep at the wheel
Why the jab at the Mets? Late in the season last year, when the team was poised to make their run, Robinson Cano was out of the lineup with another leg injury.
When the San Francisco Giants folded their tent on the 2019 season, they released Panik, who was in the midst of a down year.
The Mets picked him up, immediately inserting him at second base and the top of their lineup.
Revitalized, Panik flirted with .300 in the early stages of his time with the Mets.
Later, Cano would have a sudden and unexpected “recovery” as the Mets began streaking. Mickey Callaway had little choice but to re-insert Cano into the lineup, relegating Panik to a bench role.
For reasons known only to the Mets, they have not attempted to re-sign Panik, despite Panik’s voiced desire to return to the team as a role player.
Yankees weighing the pluses and minuses
Yankees or Mets, Joe Panik, does not seem to have a preference. He wants to be close to home, and he may be willing to grant a home-town discount to either team.
It’s the Yankees who are moving while the Mets are at a standstill on Panik.
Panik is a lefty who resembles Gardner in his approach at the plate. He’s patient, and he is willing to work the count. Panik is not a power player, but the Yankees have plenty of that.
What the Yankees lack are situational hitters, a hole Panik can fill along with Gardner.
Panik’s main contribution to the Yankees would come from his willingness to do whatever and whenever Aaron Boone needs him. In short, he’s one of those “Player’s Players” who truly is interested in winning and team play.
The Yankees may, however, be forced to consider Panik’s lack of versatility in the field. All but one of the 644 games he’s played in the big leagues has been at second base.
Joe Panik – A fit on the Yankees
It’s likely Panik will not command or demand a salary similar to last season ($3.8 million). How much Panik is willing to forgo, together with the Yankees consciousness of having to pay a luxury tax again, will have an impact on talks as they continue.
Joe Panik is the type of player and person any team wants to have in their clubhouse. He’s perfect for the Yankees on a one-year with incentives deal.