SAN FRANCISCO -- The first member of the core to go turned out to be the youngest one.
The Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment on Tuesday, a move that has been somewhat expected since the trade deadline but still stands as a massive shift for the organization. Panik had been the everyday second baseman since coming up in 2014 and teamed with Brandon Crawford to form a strong duo up the middle for years, but the Giants dealt for Scooter Gennett last week and plan to start him going forward.
The Panik move was part of a flurry before Tuesday's game. Conner Menez was called up to start against the Nationals and Williams Jerez was added from Triple-A. Sam Selman was optioned to clear a second roster spot.
The writing has been on the wall since Wednesday, when the Giants acquired Gennett -- a left-handed hitting second baseman -- from the Cincinnati Reds. Panik knew right away that his roster spot was in jeopardy, and manager Bruce Bochy met with him and told him the situation was day to day.
“I was told when he gets here they’ll figure things out," Panik said last Wednesday. "Whatever that means, it means.”
It seemed a move could be made Friday, but the Giants held on through the weekend. Gennett has started every game since arriving and Panik was doing work at shortstop, first and third in recent days to add value off the bench.
Still, the Giants had little roster flexibility to find a different solution. Panik's previous backup, Donovan Solano, hits from the right side and is a better match for Gennett. While there's some positional flexibility within the group, there's not enough to carry all three at the expense of another position player.
The Giants could not option Panik to Triple-A because he has enough service time to turn down the assignment.
Panik's run in San Francisco started brilliantly, as he hit .305 as a rookie and played an integral role for that 2014 championship team. It was Panik's homer that helped set the stage for Travis Ishikawa's heroics against the Cardinals, and his glove flip to Brandon Crawford in Game 7 of the World Series was one of the most important defensive plays in franchise history.
Panik, 28, was an All-Star the next year and won a Gold Glove in 2016. But injuries started to limit his effectiveness, and the last two seasons have been a battle. Panik hit just .254 last year with four homers but the Giants tendered him a contract in the offseason because they still liked his contact skills and believed in his defense. He's batting just .235 this year with a .627 OPS and three homers.
Panik had gradually lost time to Solano and the Giants prioritized the middle infield at the deadline. In addition to Gennett, they traded for Mauricio Dubon, a 25-year-old who is with Triple-A Sacramento and viewed as big league ready.