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Mets to sign infielder Panik (source)

@AnthonyDiComo
August 9, 2019

NEW YORK -- The Mets are close to signing infielder Joe Panik, a source said Friday. The second baseman was due to clear waivers at 1 p.m. ET on Friday. Panik, a New York native who attended St. John’s University in Queens, would fill a hole for the Mets, who

NEW YORK -- The Mets are close to signing infielder Joe Panik, a source said Friday. The second baseman was due to clear waivers at 1 p.m. ET on Friday.

Panik, a New York native who attended St. John’s University in Queens, would fill a hole for the Mets, who learned this week that starting second baseman Robinson Cano will miss much -- if not all -- of the remaining season due to a torn left hamstring.

Enter Panik, whom the Giants designated for assignment Tuesday in a decision manager Bruce Bochy called “one of my more difficult conversations I've had in my career.” A significant part of the Giants’ 2014 World Series championship team, Panik was a career .271 hitter and solid second-base defender over six seasons in San Francisco. But he was batting just .235 with a career-low .627 OPS this year prior to his DFA.

The Mets have not settled on a second-base replacement since Cano’s assignment to the injured list, rotating Jeff McNeil, Adeiny Hechavarria and Luis Guillorme through the position. Cano’s injury has also resulted in more playing time for outfielders Juan Lagares and Aaron Altherr, neither of whom has distinguished himself offensively.

Panik could potentially offer an upgrade, and a source said the former first-round Draft pick’s New York connection “definitely factors in.” Although teams such as the Mets can claim Panik off waivers before Friday afternoon, doing so would force them to absorb his remaining guaranteed salary -- a little more than $1 million. Signing Panik after he becomes a free agent would limit the Mets’ investment to the pro-rated Major League minimum, or roughly $150,000. But it would expose the Mets to competition; a source said at least one other team has interest in signing Panik.

If the Mets do ink Panik, a left-handed hitter, McNeil would shift back to right field on a more regular basis.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.