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Joe Panik is a former first-round draft pick, an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, a World Series champion and the author of one of the most memorable plays in San Francisco Giants history.
But in the middle of his sixth season with the Giants, his time with the franchise might be up.
The Giants acquired former All-Star Scooter Gennett and highly-touted prospect Mauricio Dubon before the MLB trade deadline passed on Wednesday, signaling to many that the struggling Panik could be on his way out.
“I think the writing’s on the wall, unfortunately for Joe,” former Giants pitcher and current analyst Shawn Estes told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. “It’s sad because he was a big part of this club, in the World Series run in 2014. He was a Gold Glover, he hit .300. He’s done some really good things in a Giants uniform. It’s sad because he’s a good dude and a guy you really root for and you want him do well because you’ll never forget about the backhand dive up the middle, the starting of the double play in 2014 to help them win their third world championship in five years.”
In the Giants’ 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, Eric Hosmer ripped a ball up the middle with the score tied 2-2 during the bottom of the third inning. Panik dove to his right to make the stop and flipped the ball with his glove to Brandon Crawford. Then, Crawford stepped on second base and threw to first to turn the double play. Initially, Hosmer was called safe, but after a replay review, Hosmer was ruled out.
Instead of runners on first and third with no outs, Panik erased both runners with his incredible play. The Giants would go on to win their third World Series in dramatic fashion, and Panik’s play was a instrumental in the team winning its third World Series in five seasons.
But five years removed from that iconic play, Panik is a different player. After hitting 10 homers in both 2016 and 2017, Panik has combined for seven homers between 2018 and 2019. This season, he’s slashing just .232/.307/.315 and has fallen into a platoon with 31-year-old Donovan Solano, who didn’t play in the majors in 2017 or 2018.
“I think based on what we’ve seen out of Joe the last few years,” Estes said, “the regression and as far as being a consistent batter at the plate, getting it done from a production standpoint and even defenively. Defensively, he’s struggled a little bit.
“I don’t think we’ll see Joe in a Giants uniform maybe on Thursday or Friday depending on when they activate Gennett. I think he’s going to be the odd man out. I could be wrong. They could keep an extra infielder and Joe could be around.”
[RELATED: What Gennett's arrival means for Panik]
Panik ultimately played in Thursday’s game in Philadelphia and went 1-for-4. But the Giants will need to clear a roster spot for Gennett and a move could come as early as Friday. It doesn’t make sense for the Giants to keep Panik, Solano and Gennett on the roster.