A look at new Padres outfielder David Dahl

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(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The San Diego Padres signed minor leaguer David Dahl, but with a lack of current options on the MLB roster, he could find himself as the DH for the Padres.

Dahl’s a 28-year-old, left-handed outfielder who has spent most of his career as a Colorado Rockie.

He was the tenth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Four solid seasons in Colorado’s farm system helped him to the majors. Success quickly found Dahl, who tied Chuck Aleno for the longest hitting streak to open an MLB career at 17 games. While the cavernous Coors Field helped the youngster, he put together an impressive .859 OPS and a 113 OPS+ in 63 games for the Rockies. However, he missed nearly all of 2017 as a stress fracture in his ribs, followed by back spasms, derailed his sophomore campaign. 

In 2018, he returned to Colorado, putting up a .859 OPS and a 113 OPS+, this time over 73 games. It got even better for Dahl, who made his first All-Star game in 2019, hitting .302/.353/.524. He’d homered 38 times in his first 240 games, putting up 2.5 WAR for the Rockies in the process. 

Things took a turn for the worse for Dahl in 2020, with injuries derailing the already shortened season. He only played 24 games and had an OPS of just .470 in that small sample size. After the season, the once-promising Dahl was non-tendered with the Rockies. He’s bounced around, with short stints in Texas, Milwaukee, and Washington, but he’s failed to have success in the majors. He put up a .787 OPS in Triple-A for the Brewers and Nationals. He has not been in the majors since 2021.

His baseball journey brings him to San Diego, where a lack of options at DH has brought Dahl and the Padres together. To be blunt, there’s not a lot to love from Dahl’s last three seasons. He’s homered just 18 times in his last 834 plate appearances, the majority of which have happened in the minor leagues. He doesn’t walk a lot, as he’s never been above average in OPB throughout his career. He has walked less as it goes on. Dahl’s also seen his strikeout rate rise in recent years, which is a poor combination. 

In part due to the hitter-friendly Coors Field, Dahl had a .369 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) in his first three seasons, where he was a good player. That overperformance regressed to the mean in the last two years, which has seen his production fall off a cliff. He’s not a particularly good fielder either, but he’s shown a serviceable ability to play in all three outfield positions, so he could provide depth if needed. 

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For all of Dahl’s drawbacks, the left-handed hitter does hit reasonably well against righties. Nearly all of his power comes against righties, and his slash line is a solid .283/.332/.496. He, while not ideal, could serve as one-half of a platoon.

The minor league deal really just serves as a flier, and if Dahl struggles in spring training, it’s possible he never makes his way to Petco Park. A.J. Preller and Bob Melvin will hope they can unlock the pre-pandemic, All-Star version of David Dahl.

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