Could the Houston Astros pursue David Dahl to fill an outfield vacancy?
Of all the players who were non-tendered this week, former Rockies outfielder David Dahl is one of the more intriguing names. The Houston Astros have a pair of openings in their outfield, so it would be logical for them to have interest in Dahl’s services.
The fact that he’s even a free agent is a bit surprising. Dahl was an All-Star in a 2019 season that saw him hit .302/.353/.524 in 100 games, and he doesn’t turn 27 until April. He made the prorated portion of $2.475 million in 2020, and his awful .183/.222/.247 line in 24 games in 2020 would mean he’s not due a particularly big raise.
Nonetheless, Colorado cut ties with him, and he looks to be a good candidate for a rebound. The main knock on him has been durability, as he had shoulder surgery in September and has missed significant time due to injuries in each of the past four seasons. He hasn’t played in more than 100 games in any season in his big league career, so there’s an inherent risk in signing him.
Worth a Shot?
If healthy, Dahl’s left-handed swing could certainly fit into the Astros lineup quite well. He’s still young and would be under team control via arbitration through the 2023 season, and he’s consistently shown the ability to hit for a solid batting average. Even with his poor showing in 2020, he’s a career .283 hitter with his best years possibly ahead of him.
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There are some knocks on him, though. For one, despite playing his home games at Coors Field, he hasn’t hit for a ton of power, with just 38 career home runs in 264 games. He certainly has 25-homer upside if he can stay healthy, but that’s a big if. Unfortunately he doesn’t walk much, and he strikes out too often for a guy who offers only average power. He’s also not much of a stolen base threat.
Defensively he’s played all three outfield positions and has spent more time in left field than any other. Dahl has largely graded out as a slightly below average fielder regardless of where he plays, so he’s probably not going to win you any Gold Gloves. But the good news is he can at least handle center field if needed, though teams might prefer to play him in left.
He’s kind of a poor man’s Michael Brantley. He hits for a solid average and will pop the occasional home run like Brantley, but he walks less frequently, strikes out more often and is a less accomplished defender. Re-signing Brantley would be the preferred way to fill the left field vacancy, but if he goes elsewhere — or if Jackie Bradley Jr signs elsewhere and the Astros need a center fielder — Dahl could be worth a look.