The Rangers agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder David Dahl, according to Jeff Passan. Dahl, a 2019 All-Star, was non-tendered by the Rockies last Wednesday. He was projected to make $2.6 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The Rangers and the former first-round pick agreed to a deal slightly over that projection at $3 million.
In 2020’s 60-game sample, the Rangers finished 29th in baseball in fWAR from their outfield with their positional group totaling -1.5 WAR. Joey Gallo had a down year, posting just a 77 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), compared to his 120 wRC+ between 2018 and 2019. Veteran Shin-Soo Choo, now a free agent, had an acceptable age-38 season, recording the positional group’s highest wRC+ at 87. Top 100 prospect Leody Taveras flashed his heralded two-way talent, but the rest of the group was ineffective, headlined by Willie Calhoun’s -0.9 WAR in just 29 games. A fractured jaw suffered in spring training limiting his playing time.
Meanwhile, David Dahl had a forgettable season himself. He was plagued by injury virtually the entire year, but when on the field, he was an entire 90 percent below league average, according to his 10 wRC+. Injuries are a career theme for Dahl, though several of them, like a lacerated spleen suffered in AA, a torn hamstring in class A, and more recently a stress fracture in his rib, were freak injuries and wholly unlucky. The rib injury forced the outfielder from in-game action for over a year.
Injuries were the leading reason the Rockies decided to cut ties with Dahl. However, the 26-year old outfielder’s talent has never been questioned since being selected 10th overall in 2012. Dahl has always made hard contact, evidenced by his 71st percentile barrel percentage in 2019, 70th percentile expected slugging percentage (xSLG), and 69th percentile expected isolated power (xISO). Dahl’s skills also translate into the outfield. Capable of playing center but more of a plus defender in a corner, Dahl’s sprint speed ranked in the 76th percentile in 2019, and his 2 outs above average (OAA) was better than the league mean.
In 2019, Dahl’s weighted on-base average (wOBA) exceeded his predictive weighted on-base average (pwOBA) and expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA), showing luck was on his side. Given his walk and strikeout percentages were below the league averages at 6.8% and 26.8%, respectively, and his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) sat at an unsustainable .386 clip, it makes sense to think that Dahl overperformed.
Overall, the Rangers will hold the 2nd overall pick in the 2021 amateur draft and find themselves in the cellar of the uber-competitive AL West. Following the hiring of new General Manager Chris Young and his immediate sale of the club’s ace – Lance Lynn – to the White Sox, the Rangers have seemingly committed to a rebuild. Although, the signing of Dahl presents a great way to stay competitive and potentially uncover an All-Star caliber player at a position of need.