The infield market is about to start moving quickly with Brian Dozier headed to the Nationals, league sources tell ESPN. D.J. LeMahieu and Jed Lowrie are in play, and there’s a new name percolating: The Giants are talking with teams about deals for Joe Panik, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 10, 2019
Conspicuously absent from Passan’s tweet is precisely which teams would be interested in Joe Panik. That leaves me with the task of speculating wildly about who could possibly want to take our sweet summer child away from us.
Earlier this week, Grant wrote about the complications of the second baseman market. In it, he concluded that the only team who really needed a second baseman was the Nationals and they signed Brian Dozier right around the time the reports about dealing Panik came to light.
In Bryan’s initial report, he wrote that he always thought either of the New York teams would make sense, but each has added players that would make Panik redundant. Even if the Yankees are out on Manny Machado, they’ve already added Troy Tulowitzki and have Gleyber Torres to play second. The Mets added Robinson Cano and they have Jeff McNeil for depth and versatility.
The Giants don’t have a ton of obvious options for potential suitors. Most of the contenders are satisfied with their second base situation, and DJ LeMahieu and Jed Lowrie are still on the market. If the Giants want to trade Panik, they’ll have to get creative.
The projected Opening Day starter for Boston is Dustin Pedroia who played in 13 games last season. Behind him on the FanGraphs depth chart is Brock Holt who is also the backup shortstop in case anything happens to Xander Bogaerts. They probably want a backup plan.
Oddly enough, I’m not sure the Red Sox are willing to part with anything the Giants would want. The Red Sox’ farm is about as barren as the Giants. According to MLB Pipeline, Boston’s highest ranked outfield prospect is Nick Decker, their second-round pick from the most recent amateur draft. FanGraphs only has the 19-year-old as a 40+ FV.
Even if there’s no clear target, the Giants could take an accuracy by volume approach and just go for as many promising prospects as they can.
The Brewers are looking to add an infielder, and they have less money to work with after signing Yasmani Grandal. Milwaukee and San Francisco have reportedly been in trade talks all winter. A match here would make sense as Panik would provide a low-cost upgrade over the Brewers’ projected Opening Day starter: Hernán Pérez.
Milwaukee finally traded away Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton, and Panik probably isn’t enough to bring back Corey Ray. The Giants aren’t likely to address their outfield needs with Milwaukee even if they always seemed like a perfect fit.
We know that the Giants are keen on getting one of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, or Freddy Peralta. If Madison Bumgarner wasn’t enough to get a deal done for one of those pitchers, maybe adding Joe Panik sweetens the pot and gets Milwaukee to throw in a raffle ticket.
This is probably just a sign that I follow too many Cubs people on Twitter, but I’ve often seen the idea that the Giants and Cubs do a bad contract swap. This usually involves Mark Melancon waiving his no-trade clause and Heyward getting sent to San Francisco.
This proposal from Bleacher Nation suggests the Giants trade Johnny Cueto and Melancon for Heyward. I’m not sure the Giants are ready to give up on Cueto. He won’t pitch in 2019, but the Giants won’t be good in 2019 so he picked a good year to be recovering from Tommy John.
But let’s say the Giants really want to take on Heyward’s contract, and Melancon is unwilling to waive his no-trade clause. The Giants could send Joe Panik and Will Smith to the Cubs in exchange for Ian Happ and Jason Heyward.
The Cubs would get an excellent reliever to bolster their very bad bullpen while freeing up payroll for a go at Bryce Harper. Panik would allow Javier Báez to shift over to short and Addison Russell could be jettisoned into the sun.
The Giants would get a very expensive, but perfectly cromulent right fielder and a switch-hitting second baseman and center fielder who might lead the Giants in walks (even if he also leads them in strikeouts).
Taking on Heyward’s contract probably means the Giants would be out on DJ LeMahieu, but they would have Happ and I’m not sure LeMahieu is a good idea anyway.
Maybe the Twins, White Sox, or Phillies would want to acquire Panik for depth. Maybe Jerry Dipoto wants to trade for Panik just because he hasn’t made a trade in a few days and he’s jonesing hard. Other than that, it’s hard to think of a team that isn’t already happy with their second baseman and a lack of suitors may be the thing that keeps Panik in San Francisco.