Former National League All-Star infielder Joe Panik and former Buffalo Bisons/New York Mets infielder Ruben Tejada are among five free agents the Toronto Blue Jays have signed to minor-league contracts with an invitation to Major League spring training, Buffalo's parent club announced Monday.
Panik, 29, split last season between the San Francisco Giants and Mets and posted a .244 batting average with five homers and 39 RBIs in 142 games. He signed with the Mets in August three days after being designated for assignment by San Francisco.
He was sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2014 and was the starter for the Giants in their World Series victory at Kansas City, going 6 for 27 with three RBIs in the seven games. Panik was named an All-Star in 2015 and a Gold Glove winner in 2016. He is a lifetime .271 hitter with 38 homers and 233 RBIs in 682 big-league games.
Panik's brother, Paul, was a four-year player (2007-10) and assistant coach (2014-16) at Canisius College. He is currently the head coach at Iona College, a Metro Atlantic rival of Canisius.
Tejada, 30, spent most of last year in Syracuse (.326-6-42) but spent most of the previous eight years in the big leagues after being promoted from the Bisons to the Mets in 2010. He is a lifetime .250 hitter in 663 games with the Mets, Cardinals, Giants and Orioles. Tejada batted .280 in 65 games for the Bisons in 2010 and .246 in 54 games in 2011.
Also signed by the Blue Jays to minor-league deals were catcher Patrick Cantwell, who hit .217 in 22 games for the Bisons last year, former Baltimore and Arizona catcher Caleb Joseph and pitcher Ryan Dull, whom the Blue Jays claimed off waivers in September. Cantwell won Buffalo's Fremo Vallone Community Service Award last season.