Panik on Mets tenure: 'We love New York'

Infielder addresses future with club ahead of 2020 campaign

September 18th, 2019

NEW YORK -- Off-days have become welcome respites for Joe Panik, who often hosts cookouts with his wife at the couple’s Dutchess County, N.Y. home. Panik’s parents and in-laws attend, as the entire Panik extended family takes advantage of his return to the area.

When Panik’s eight years in the Giants organization came to an end this summer, it gave him a chance to fulfill a lifetime goal of playing for a local New York team. The Hopewell Junction native has enjoyed it enough that he’s interested in extending the relationship next year, if the Mets will have him.

“Right now, we don’t know where baseball’s going to take us,” Panik said. “We love New York, love the food, love the people. This is where we live.”

Signed to start at second base after Robinson Cano landed on the injured list with a torn hamstring, Panik has since experienced a role reduction now that Cano is healthy. But he’s still given the Mets value, batting .274/.322/.381 while filling in at second base on occasion.

The question is what comes next. Under team control for one more season, Panik would be due a raise through arbitration from the $3.8 million he’s making this season. The Mets, who are paying Panik only a prorated portion of the Major League minimum salary, are unlikely to spend that much on a backup infielder with Cano penciled in as the starter. (The club non-tendered Wilmer Flores under similar circumstances last offseason.)

The Mets could potentially non-tender Panik as well, and offer him a lower salary to return. Or Panik could test the open market for the second time in four months.

“To be honest with you, I know this might sound cliché, but I really haven’t had much time to think about it,” Panik said, noting that he plans to work out at third base and shortstop this offseason to increase his versatility. “For me, I just wanted to make the most of my opportunity here. I really feel like I’m playing the type of game that I’ve played in the past here and wherever it takes me, it takes me. I’ve really come to enjoy it here, but I understand the business side of it.”

If Panik’s career in New York winds up being only two months long, he appreciates even that much. He commutes over an hour from Dutchess County to Citi Field so that he can live at home, enjoying comforts that weren’t possible when he was in San Francisco.

“It’s been a lot of fun, to be honest with you,” Panik said. “For me, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Being with one organization, one manager, one infield coach -- San Francisco was very stable. I liked the situation, all the players that I had played with for a long time. Coming into a new situation, I really didn’t know how it was going to be. But these guys have really welcomed me with open arms. From Day 1, I felt comfortable here.”


Mets manager Mickey Callaway described Wednesday’s scheduled pairing of pitcher Noah Syndergaard and catcher René Rivera as the team’s best chance to win a game. That’s a change in philosophy from last week, when Callaway said the Mets were better off with Wilson Ramos in the starting lineup, regardless of the effect on Syndergaard.

Syndergaard owns a 2.22 ERA pitching to Rivera and Tomás Nido this season, versus a 5.20 mark throwing to Ramos.

“Where we’re at right now, we need Noah to pitch well,” Callaway said. “We needed him to pitch well last time, and we thought that was going to be the combo that did it on that day … We try to do that every time, to put ourselves in the best position to succeed.”

Davis OK

Outfielder J.D. Davis was “pretty sore” and out of the Mets’ starting lineup Tuesday, a day after slamming into the left-field fence. But he was available to pinch-hit, according to Callaway.

Staying on turn

The Mets will not use Thursday’s off-day to alter their rotation, meaning Jacob deGrom will only pitch twice more this season as he vies for the National League Cy Young Award. The team could have used the off-day as a way to grant deGrom an extra start on regular rest, but opted not to.