The Blue Jays have signed infielder Joe Panik to a minor league contract, reports Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun. The deal includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, Panik will earn $2.85MM if he cracks the big league roster. Panik is a client of Jet Sports Management.
Panik, 29, is coming off a season in which he saw his six-year tenure with the Giants come to an end, finishing the season with the Mets. He was designated for assignment after posting a meager .627 OPS in 103 games with San Francisco. He fared better in Queens and managed a much more respectable .738 OPS, albeit in just 103 plate appearances. He offers little in the way of power, but consistently ranks among baseball’s best at avoiding strikeouts: for his career, he’s struck out in just 9.4% of his plate appearances. He’s also regarded as a solid defender at second base, though it bears mentioning that the advanced metric Defensive Runs Saved graded him as a net negative in each of the last three seasons.
With his new organization, Panik will have the opportunity to compete with the likes of Brandon Drury, Ruben Tejada, and Breyvic Valera for a roster spot and infield playing time. Cavan Biggio is penciled in as the Opening Day second baseman, but Charlie Montoyo and company could opt for some combination of Panik and Drury at the keystone while shifting Biggio to a more outfield-heavy role.