When the 2020 MLB season will start is uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MLB has currently suspended play with no real timeframe given but reports are out there of a possible late May Opening Day.
Despite no given timeline for the start of the season, the Toronto Blue Jays did make one move already adding Joe Panik to the 40-man roster and in the corresponding roster move, pitcher Yennsy Diaz has been placed on the 60-day IL. With the veteran second baseman being added to the 40-man it most likely secures him a spot on the roster, but why did Toronto decide to bring him along despite the fact he only plays one position?
The main reason has to be his play during Spring Training. In 10 games, the 29-year-old hit a very impressive .381 batting average with a .462 OBP and a .762 slugging percentage. The veteran, who is not known for his power also belted two home runs. His bat was hot in spring which forced the Blue Jays’ hand to add him to the roster, especially due to him having a spring opt-out of his contract.
Not only was his bat hot, but given the fact Cavan Biggio has been playing in the outfield still gives the roster position versatility as when Panik takes second, Biggio can still be in the lineup. Not only that, but the poor play of Anthony Alford has resulted in the team not likely to carry five outfielders which give them the opportunity to carry an extra infielder or bench player which Panik fits in nicely.
Although hitting .381 will 100 percent not happen in the regular season, if the team can even get his career average of .271 with a .334 OBP, the ball club should be happy with that production from the bottom of the order.
Hitting wise, the move makes sense, but Panik also adds some stability up the middle when he will play at second.
Throughout his career, he has a .988 fielding percentage at second base while also helping turn 409 career double plays. His glove is solid as he is a former Gold Glove winner who should be a solid backup second baseman for the club.
Panik will also be a veteran and leader on and off the field for a young infield that will feature Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio.
His leadership is something that caught the eye of manager Charlie Montoyo who also likes his winning attitude.
“So far, I love Joe Panik as a person and as a player,” Montoyo said via the Toronto Sun. “He can do the little things. He’s been in San Francisco. He knows how to win. He’s talking to our guys, teaching them what it takes to be a championship team.”
So, Joe Panik making the Blue Jays 2020 roster is something that makes sense, especially after the spring he had.