Joe Panik

Arb-eligible players should tack on about $14 million to Giants payroll

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AP

Arb-eligible players should tack on about $14 million to Giants payroll

SAN FRANCISCO — There are years when you look at the Giants’ arbitration list and you can easily point to a few salaries that can be shed. This isn’t one of those years. 

The Giants have six arbitration-eligible players this offseason and the list includes their starting second baseman (Joe Panik) and four pitchers who should make up the chunk of their bullpen (Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland, Will Smith and Cory Gearrin). The sixth member of the group is Tim Federowicz, and while he would make sense if Nick Hundley doesn’t return, the Giants can probably punt their backup catcher decision down the road a bit. 

Assuming they tender contracts to the first five, the Giants will be on the hook for about another $14 million next year. MLB Trade Rumors puts out arbitration projections each year that have proven to be pretty close to accurate. Here are their numbers for this year’s arbitration eligible Giants: 

Dyson: $4.6 million
Panik $3.5 million
Smith: $2.5 million
Strickland: $1.7 million
Gearrin: $1.6 million
Federowicz: $1.3 million

If you take Federowicz out of the mix, that’s $13.9 million for five members of next year’s team. The Giants already have about $166 million committed for 11 players when you pick up the Madison Bumgarner and Matt Moore options and assume Johnny Cueto and Pablo Sandoval are back, so, basically, you can see why management has talked about adding via trades instead of free agency. 

Pre-arb players like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach, as well as some spread-out contracts, ease the tax burden a bit, but the Giants are still inching up on the Competitive Balance Tax ($197 million in 2018) for the fourth consecutive year. The 50 percent tax rate they paid last season is a big reason why guys like J.D. Martinez were never an option in left field, and why you can probably cross him off your wish list this year, too. During an interview that aired on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast, team president and CEO Larry Baer addressed the CBT concerns. 

“That (tax) is something that’s punitive financially but it’s also punitive from a player acquisition standpoint, because if you’re in the CBT you then have penalties sprinkled through the collective bargaining agreement that affects the draft choice compensation, affects the pool of dollars you can use to sign international players and a couple of other areas,” he said. “It hurts you from a player acquisition and player development standpoint, so you have to be mindful about that, but if there’s an opportunity we’re not going to let the CBT stand in the way.”

Before this season, team officials talked about the desire to dip under the tax for a year — either this offseason or next — and reset those penalties. They obviously never thought the season would go the way it did and they would be sitting here in October with so many holes to fill, but here we are. For more from that interview with Baer, you can download the Giants Insider Podcast here.

Panik ties MLB record, reminds Bochy of Gwynn with 12 hits in three games

Panik ties MLB record, reminds Bochy of Gwynn with 12 hits in three games

DENVER — With expanded rosters, Bruce Bochy has started mapping his lineups out days in advance. Before Tuesday’s game, he told Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford that one of them would be off for Wednesday’s series finale. 

Crawford told Bochy he felt fine physically and wanted to try and get a win before the Giants left Denver for the season. Panik let his bat do the talking. 

The second baseman had five hits in an 11-3 win over the Rockies Wednesday night, following three-hit and four-hit games. Panik tied a major league record with 12 hits in a three-game series, and he became the first big leaguer to do it since Boston’s Jerry Remy in 1981. 

The feat left Panik shaking his head and smiling. It left his manager comparing him to one of the all-time greats.

“I’ll say this, I was lucky and fortunate to have played with and managed Tony Gwynn,” Bochy said, his eyes lighting up. “He had some great series, but I don’t recall him having a series like this ... Everything (Panik) hit, he hit on the barrel and found holes. When he didn’t, he hit it out (of the park) or hit a gapper. It was quite a display of hitting. It did remind me of Tony.”

There’s no higher praise than that, and Panik is doing a pretty good Gwynn impression on the road this season. Away from AT&T Park’s harsh dimensions, Panik is hitting .342. His average at home is just .212, and it was a two-hit series against the Cardinals that had Panik contemplating changes. 

He went up to hitting coach Hensley Meulens before the first game of this series and told him his bat felt heavy over the weekend. Meulens spends hours every week looking at exit velocity data and launch angles and anything else Statcast spits out, but he suggested a very old-school tweak. Meulens told Panik to choke up on the bat. He homered in his first at-bat Monday and never cooled off. 

“I’m going to keep riding it,” Panik said of his approach. “It’s funny, it’s just a simple thing. It makes the bat lighter in your hands and it allows you to see the ball better. I’m going to keep doing it. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things. When it comes to hitting, you can overanalyze it. We’re playing the same game as in little league, and sometimes you’ve got to think basic.”

Panik had a single in the first Wednesday and scored the game's first run. He had RBI doubles in the fourth and sixth. In the eighth, he hit a bouncer up the middle to tie Mike Benjamin’s franchise record for hits in a three-game series. As Panik ran to first, a Rockies player in the dugout yelled out that he was having a Tony Gwynn-type night. Panik smiled and chatted it up with first base coach Jose Alguacil, and it appeared his record run would end there. But this is Coors Field, and the Giants kept pouring it on. Panik got one more chance in the ninth and bounced another single up the middle, raising his average to .285. It was .267 when the Giants landed in Denver. 

“Everything is slow,” Panik said of his at-bats. “It’s a good feeling to be in. Every time up I feel like I can be patient. I feel like I’m in control of the at-bat. It’s definitely a good feeling.”

Panik knows it won’t last. It never does. But he has had this feeling in the past for a day or two at a time, and he’s happy to keep it going as long as he can. 

As he packed up Wednesday and prepared to leave Coors Field for the South Side, Panik said he was looking forward to getting a nice steak dinner with his wife on the day off. He was sketching out other plans, too. 

“I might go to the White Sox place and take a few cuts,” Panik said.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Panik sets record, Giants win at Coors

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Panik sets record, Giants win at Coors

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Before Wednesday’s game, a Giant stood in the dugout and tried to make sense of this season. He noted that it seems the team finds a different way to lose every night. On Wednesday, the Giants found a very strange way to win. 

Two big early rallies were built on misplays by all-world third baseman Nolan Arenado, who had — you can check the records on this one — never before had a bad moment against the Giants. Arenado’s error in the first opened the gates for two runs, and he couldn’t glove a hard shot a couple innings later, allowing two more to score on a Gorkys Hernandez single. 

Joe Panik took care of the rest. Panik had five more hits, giving him 12 for the series. Panik became the first player in franchise history to record 12 hits in a three-game series, and he did the heavy lifting in an 11-3 win over the Rockies. 

The win was the Giants' first at Coors Field in exactly one year. Here are five things to know ...

—- It’s possible that Panik won’t get on the flight out of town. After three hits in the opener and four on Tuesday, Panik got to five with singles up the middle in his last two at-bats Wednesday. He raised his average from .267 to .285 during the three-game series. 

—- Johnny Cueto brought the goods. He ended his night by blowing a high fastball past Arenado to strand a runner. Cueto gave up five hits and one earned run in five innings, striking out seven. He very much looked like the 2016 version of Johnny Cueto, which is a good sign for 2018. 

—- Austin Slater’s first at-bat since July 7 came in the first inning with the bases loaded and two outs. He smoked the first pitch back up the middle for a two-run single. Slater went 0-for-4 the rest of the night. 

—- Mac Williamson took 97 mph the other way in the seventh for a deep homer. It was the second pinch-hit homer of Williamson’s career. Maybe they should play him more? You know, see if there’s more where that came from? 

—- Nick Hundley tacked on with a 445-foot homer in the eighth. The blast was Hundley’s seventh. The Giants should bring him back.