The Giants announced Tuesday that they’ve designated second baseman Joe Panik for assignment and optioned lefty Sam Selman to Triple-A Sacramento. Southpaws Conner Menez and Williams Jerez were recalled from Sacramento in their place.
Panik’s future with the Giants looked to be in question when the club not only acquired well-regarded second base prospect Mauricio Dubon from the Brewers but also veteran second bagger Scooter Gennett from the Reds. Panik, a former first-round pick, has been the Giants’ regular second baseman since debuting in 2014 but has seen his production crater over the past two seasons. In 780 plate appearances dating back to 2018, he’s managed only a .245/.308/.325 batting line.
Injuries have hampered Panik’s career in recent seasons, as he’s missed time due to thumb, groin and back injuries in addition to (most notably) multiple concussions. Panik made the 2015 All-Star team when he hit .312/.378/.455, but he’s never come close to replicating those offensive heights. He’d have been a non-tender candidate this winter by virtue of the fact that he’d be in line for a raise on this season’s $3.8MM salary.
Normally, the Giants would have a week to trade Panik or put him on outright or release waivers. However, with the elimination of August trades, San Francisco’s only recourse will be to waive Panik — likely in the hopes that another club will save them some money by claiming the remainder of his salary. Panik is owed about $1.12MM through season’s end, and any team to claim him would be responsible for the entirety of that sum. If he goes unclaimed, Panik can become a free agent without forfeiting any of that salary. At that point, any team to sign him would only owe him the prorated league minimum through the end of the year — about $164K.
There’s an obvious connection between the Mets, who have lost Robinson Cano to the injured list, and the New York-born Panik. Whether the Mets deem him an upgrade over internal options, based on his past two seasons of play, remains to be seen though. New York could simply slide Jeff McNeil from the outfield back to second base and pursue an additional outfielder, which figure to be in greater supply in the coming weeks.