Red Sox: Three non-tendered outfielders to target in free agency
Red Sox free-agent target – David Dahl
David Dahl was one of the biggest surprises among the non-tendered players. An All-Star in 2019, Dahl was cast aside to the scrap heap despite being projected for a modest $2.5 million in arbitration.
A couple of factors led to the Colorado Rockies cutting bait with Dahl, starting with his abysmal 2020 season. Dahl slashed .183/.222/.247 with only four extra-base hits, none of which left the ballpark. His unfathomably low 10 wRC+ represented a 100 point drop from the previous season and FanGraphs rated him among the worst position players in the league with -0.8 WAR.
In fairness, these results come in an unreliable sample size of only 24 games. However, that leads us to the next concern. Dahl has struggled to stay on the field, topping out at a career-high 100 games played in 2019. He’s battled through a ruptured spleen, stress reactions in his rib cage, a fractured foot, a high ankle sprain, plus back and shoulder injuries. That’s a lengthy injury history for a 26-year old with only four years of big league experience.
There’s risk in betting on Dahl’s brittle body but his bat provides enough upside to warrant rolling the dice on him for short money. Dahl is only on year removed from hitting .302/.353/.524 with 15 home runs and 48 extra-base hits.
The thin air at Coors Field helps everyone’s offensive production but that’s hardly the only reason for Dahl’s success. The former No. 10 overall pick was universally regarded as a top prospect throughout his minor league career.
Dahl is capable of filling all three outfield spots, although center field isn’t his strongest position. He would be a serviceable option after proving capable of patrolling the spacious outfield at Coors Field but he’s better suited for a corner spot.
His left-handed bat doesn’t complement the other Red Sox outfielders but Dahl produced reverse splits in his breakout 2019 season when when he hit .319 with a 115 wRC+ against lefties.
He’s not an ideal fit for Boston’s needs since he isn’t right-handed or a natural center fielder. However, the upside of Dahl might be too great to pass up. The Red Sox would be gambling that Dahl can return to his 2019 form and stay relatively healthy but there are few outfielders available in free agency who can match Dahl’s talent and will be available at his affordable price tag.