Reese Kaplan -- Hey, Joe....Nice to Have Known You


Roster decisions are never easy to make.  Do you keep the veteran who has had a good track record even if sliding toward the down side of his career or do you go with the younger ballplayer who has yet to prove what he can do at this level but carries a much lower price tag?

The Mets will be facing a rather similar dilemma in 2020 when it comes to the backup middle infield positions on the roster.  You would assume Robinson Cano, Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil (wherever he plays) and Jed Lowrie are carved in stone already.  That means you need someone capable of being a backup middle infielder should one of the starters need a day off.  Therein lies the rub.

This year the Mets, as they so often do, went garbage pile picking and plucked Joe Panik from the curb of the San Francisco Giants.  Panik is a steady if unspectacular veteran who is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility.  He currently earns a hair under $4 million and will likely see at least a $500K raise for his 2020 salary if it goes to an arbiter.  That’s hardly a king’s ransom when you remember they paid lesser productive folks like Juan Lagares more than twice that amount, but it was that salary level that probably spelled the end of Wilmer Flores’ tenure on the Mets as he was not slated to be a starting player. 

On the unproven but promising side you have Luis Guillorme.  His minor league numbers show a .289 AVG with a good .368 OBP.  He also is considered a plus defender, capable of playing 2B, SS or 3B.  Like Panik, he’s a left handed hitter not blessed with a lot of speed or power. 

Many folks will be in the Joe Panik camp as he once won a Gold Glove and once made an All Star team.  Both of these facts did not stop the Giants from DFAing him this season when they felt they had better in-house options.  With Cano, Lowrie, Rosario and McNeil on the roster, he would certainly not be a starter unless there was a long-term injury.  Even then, McNeil might slot into an infield position and let someone else take over his outfield job.  Is the veteran Panik the better way to go? 

My answer is a resounding “No!” 

Hear me out.  He’s played 637 big league games.  636 of them have been at 2B.  One has been at 1B.  None have been at 3B nor SS.  So defensively he’s essentially a one-trick pony.  I’d sooner see the $4 million or so saved put towards other needs.

Remember what I said about Panik?  The same applies to Guillorme.  He’s the Nth level option for the infield and won’t likely be getting much in the way of playing time.  His .229 AVG is nothing to write home about, but it’s an improvement over what he’s done in the past and lately he’s shown his penchant for both timely late inning hits and drawing walks.  Keep him there at near minimum wage or look for another option outside the organization.  Right now Panik seems like the less desirable move to make. 


Tom Brennan said...

If Luis had half Pete’s power, he’d be an everyday player. He will, most likely be a beneficiary of increased play time due to the 26 man roster next year. He should learn to catch too. He’d be indispensable.

Viper said...

The Mets as usual like to give opportunities to players that have been dfa'd by other organizations over their own players. The games Panik has played at 2B, should have gone to Guillorme in my opinion.

Lets not forget how McNeil got into the lineup to begin with and look what we ended up with. Now, I am not saying that Guillorme would do the same but he is more than an adequate bench player / part time starter.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

You know how happy I was when Panik was signed, but he can't hold a candle to a healthy Cano,

Add a healthy Lowrie to the mix and I agree that he will have to go.

John From Albany said...

Great post Reese.

Viper, I agree with you. Would have preferred that they keep Hechevaria as a backup and let Guilerme play. Hechevaria at least gave them more versatility and speed off the bench.

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