On Friday, David Dahl agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract to play for the Texas Rangers in 2021. While he could provide decent value for such a cheap contract, David Dahl would not have been the right signing for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals need an outfielder with a strong bat who can take over a job and solidify the lineup. David Dahl is not this kind of a player. Dahl is a decent player, but he is simply not a step up from the outfield options that are already in the organization. Dahl posted an above average wRC+ in his first three seasons before struggling in 2020. However, in two of those seasons, he had plenty of batted ball luck which helped inflate his numbers. In his rookie season in 2016, Dahl posted a career high wRC+ of 113. However, he also posted a career high BABIP of .404. Then in 2019, he posted a wRC+ of 110 to go with a BABIP of .386. The only good season that Dahl has had at the plate without the suspicion of batted ball luck, was in 2018 (110 wRC+, .311 BABIP). However, he played just 77 games that season. Additionally, Dahl has never played more than 100 games in a single season due to an extensive injury history. The 26-year-old missed all of the 2017 season with injury, as well as chunks of every other MLB season since he arrived in Colorado in 2016.
Additionally, Dahl does not take a lot of walks, strikes out at a somewhat high rate, and provides no value on the defensive side of the game. Last season, Dahl posted -4 DRS and -9.8 UZR/150 despite playing just 24 games. He was not much better in the previous season as he posted -11 DRS in 100 games.
Dahl is simply not a good enough hitter to overcome his defensive shortcomings. The Cardinals do not need a liability in the outfield who has had plenty of luck at the plate, and has never played a full season. This is simply not the right fit.
The Cardinals do need to improve their offensive production, and an outfielder that can hit would be a big part of that. However, Dahl is too much of a liability in the outfield, and is not a convincing hitter. While the Cardinals do need to look to improve this position, Dahl was not the answer and it is a good thing that the Cardinals are looking elsewhere instead of rushing into the wrong signing.
The Cardinals do need to improve, but this will not happen unless the front office makes the right moves. There are outfielders that can be acquired that would improve the team, but Dahl was not one of them. Now the Cardinals need to keep being patient, but they also need to acquire outfield help, as long as it will actually make the team better.