Former WFAN host Mike Francesa says the Mets are open to trading OF Juan Lagares to the Giants for 2B Joe Panik.
"I don't know if they'll keep Lagares or not," Francesa said Tuesday on WOR. "I know the Giants want Lagares. The Mets are interested in Panik."
When asked what the Mets would do with Asdrubal Cabrera if they traded for Panik, Francesa said they'd "let him play as a utility-man -- that's all. I know they like Panik a lot."
Panik, 27, hit .288/.347/.421 with 10 HR in 138 games last season for the Giants, while being worth -11 DRS at second base, per FanGraphs. He will earn $3.45 million this season, and is eligible for arbitration in 2019 and 2020, after which he can become a free agent.
The 28-year-old Lagares will earn $6.5 million this season and $9 million in 2019.
Cabrera, 32, will be a free agent after this season.
It was reported in late-December that the Mets were open to trading Lagares in an effort to create payroll flexibility. However, that report came out shortly after a report that claimed the Mets were likely set to reduce payroll by roughly $20 million -- which did not happen.
Lagares, who re-worked his swing during the offseason in an effort to hit for more power, was limited to 94 games last season due to a torn thumb ligament.
He is expected to split time in center field with Brandon Nimmo until Michael Conforto returns from his shoulder injury -- perhaps around May 1.
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If Panik's defensive struggles last season were a one-year blip -- and if the Mets are comfortable using Nimmo in center field every day until Conforto returns -- dealing Lagares for Panik actually makes sense.
With Conforto recovering from such a serious injury and Nimmo still a bit inexperienced, trading Lagares now would be a risk. But if Conforto does make it back around May 1, the Mets would be set up well -- with Yoenis Cespedes, Conforto, and Jay Bruce in the outfield from left to right, Nimmo on the bench, Panik at second base, and Cabrera on the bench.
Or the Mets could trade Cabrera to the Yankees -- as the NY Post's Joel Sherman suggested Tuesday.
Either way, they would have Panik under team control through 2020, which would mean the infield would likely be stabilized for the long-term at shortstop (Amed Rosario), second base, and first base (Dominic Smith), with Todd Frazier (third base) signed through 2019.