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Friday Bantering: Blue Jays re-sign Joe Panik, New Minor League Structure

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Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Joe Panik (2) throws to first base during the game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 17, 2020, at Orioles Park at Camden Yards, in Baltimore, MD.
Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Joe Panik (2) throws to first base during the game against the Baltimore Orioles on August 17, 2020, at Orioles Park at Camden Yards, in Baltimore, MD.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy lunar new year to everyone who celebrates it! Here are some quick Blue Jays topics for your bantering:

Jeff Passan reports that the Blue Jays have inked Joe Panik to a minor-league contract. Panik played second, short, and third with the Blue Jays last year and hit a light .225/.340/.300. Passan did not specify it here, but I assume that Panik was also invited to major league spring training.

After David Phelps, Francisco Lirano, and Joe Panik, Robert Murray reports that another reunion may be in the works with the Blue Jays showing “recent interest in free-agent pitcher Taijuan Walker.

One reunion that won’t happen is with Ken Giles. According to Shannon Drayer, he has signed a multi-year deal with the Mariners that will allow him to rehab in 2021.

Minor League Realignment

The big re-alignment of Minor League Baseball has been finalized. There will now be four levels (Low-A, High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A) split into 11 circuits. Of interest to Blue Jays fans, the International League is now “Triple-A East”, the Eastern League is now “Double-A Northeast”, the Northwest League is now “High-A West”, and the Florida State League is now “Low-A Southeast.”

I believe that the generic cardinal direction-based minor league circuit names makes it easier for MLB/MiLB to eventually sell naming rights. It is a much easier sell to switch from a new moniker like “Triple-A West” to the “Bally Total Fitness League” (or whatever) than if they switched directly from the historic “Pacific Coast League” name. I call these “circuit names” instead of “league names” because individual league offices have been eliminated and operations have been rolled up to the Commissioner’s Office in New York. In fact, “Minor League Baseball” is now known as the “Player Development League” (PDL).

The PDL agreements have 10-year terms, which means that the Blue Jays will have Buffalo, New Hampshire, and Vancouver as their affiliates through the 2030 season (Dunedin is owned by the MLB team so their affiliation is indefinite).

According to Baseball America, triple-A leagues should start in early April while the other leagues will start play in early May with those players starting spring training when MLB spring training wraps up.