TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have agreed to terms with veteran infielder Joe Panik on a Minor League deal that the club announced on Friday.
Panik will earn $1.85 million on the deal if he makes the Major League roster, including a potential $400,000 in incentives, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. The club has not confirmed the terms of the deal.
This is a sensible reunion for the Blue Jays after Panik spent the 2020 season with the club, hitting .225 with a .640 OPS over 41 games while seeing time at second base, third base and shortstop. Now 30 years old with postseason experience and a World Series ring from his six years with the Giants, Panik is a good fit in the Blue Jays' clubhouse, and there remains a path for him to make a legitimate impact on the roster.
With Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio expected to comprise the starting infield and with pitchers and catchers set to report for Spring Training next week, Panik could provide the Blue Jays with the bench depth piece that they still need. Santiago Espinal is the in-house option, and while the Blue Jays like what the young and versatile infielder brings to the table, Panik’s experience is valuable and his left-handed bat would be a welcome addition to a righty-heavy lineup.
If there’s one position still in flux on the Blue Jays' roster, it’s third base. Guerrero has been campaigning for a return there that still seems unlikely, making Biggio the likely starter. General manager Ross Atkins has said he’s very comfortable with that, but it’s clear the position could develop throughout the season, especially with Biggio’s ability to play elsewhere on the diamond.
The Blue Jays could still have the market come to them and land another starting infielder, allowing them to use Biggio in a valuable utility role, but if that’s not the case, Panik can be part of the broader solution and the club can re-evaluate closer to the Trade Deadline.
Now a seven-year Major League veteran, Panik is a career .269 hitter with a .714 OPS. Panik won a Gold Glove Award at second base in 2016, and he made his first All-Star Game appearance the year prior.