Dahl signs with Rangers, ready to 'go earn it'

December 16th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Outfielder has to go to Spring Training and show he is healthy and able to be a productive hitter away from Coors Field.

If he does, expect Dahl to be the Rangers’ everyday left fielder. Texas is giving him that opportunity after signing Dahl to a one-year, $2.7 million contract, which became official on Tuesday.

“Obviously I have to come to Spring Training healthy and show everybody what I can do,” Dahl said. “That’s the expectation, but you have to go earn it, and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Dahl, who will turn 27 on April 1, became a free agent when the Rockies did not offer him a contract at the Dec. 2 non-tender deadline. He agreed to a one-year deal, but with just three-plus years of service time, Dahl won’t be a free agent until after the 2023 season. That’s why the Rangers see him possibly being part of their long-term building program rather than just a one-year stopgap.

“The biggest thing is they are building and getting close to winning,” Dahl said. “They have a lot of good young players, and they are giving me the opportunity to come in and play every day. That is a huge factor, plus being closer to home, my wife’s family is from Houston. That’s pretty close. I’m really excited. The Rangers showed interest right off the bat, and it’s a place where I really wanted to come.”

Dahl joins center fielder Leody Taveras and right fielder Joey Gallo to give what the Rangers expect to be three strong defensive players in a ballpark that places a premium on outfield defense.

“Dahl is an above-average defender,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I have seen it and watched it. Playing in a tough place in Colorado, getting him out of Colorado, he’ll be an above-average left fielder, for sure, with the ability to play center.”

The Rangers still want Willie Calhoun to be able to play the outfield. But if everybody stays healthy, Calhoun will likely get most of his at-bats at designated hitter.

“I have challenged Willie,” Woodward said. “Don’t shortchange Willie. He has worked really hard right now. You never know what’s going to happen in camp, we have a long way to go. I have challenged Willie to get faster, get stronger, be more mobile and athletic. We’ll see what it looks like when we start camp.”

Dahl struggled this season, playing in 24 games and hitting .183/.222/.247 with no home runs and nine RBIs. He spent time on the injured list with lower back soreness and a right shoulder strain. Dahl had surgery on the right shoulder at the end of the season, and he’s been on the injured list six times in the past four seasons.

“We have done a lot of diligence with our medical staff,” general manager Chris Young said. “We’re very confident where he is in his rehab progression. We are excited to get him paired up with our medical staff and really accelerate his recovery. We are hopeful he’ll be ready by Opening Day, but the expectation is when David is ready, he is 100% ready and he is going to make great contributions to our team. If that means a couple weeks into the season, so be it.”

The Rangers are hoping they get the player who was a member of the National League All-Star team in 2019. Dahl played in 100 games for the Rockies that season and hit .302/.353/.524 with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs, although he missed much of the second half with a high right ankle sprain.

Dahl was the Rockies’ first-round pick in the 2012 Draft (10th overall) out of Oak Mountain High School (Birmingham, Ala.) and made his Major League debut with Colorado in 2016. He has performed much better at Coors Field throughout his career, hitting .318/.361/.556 in Colorado and .248/.302/.420 on the road.

“This guy has been a really successful hitter,” Woodward said. “I know this year has been a down year, but what this kid can do with a bat in his hand and what he is open in what he wants to become, fits. He’s hungry, he knows he has a higher level and can’t wait to get there.”