Non-Tender Contenders: Bradley and Dahl

With the non-tender deadline behind us, new players have been added to the free agent market. Two such players who should be of interest to the Yankees are outfielder David Dahl and reliever Archie Bradley.

With Jonathan Holder non-tendered by the team, Brett Gardner a free agent, and the need to upgrade over Mike Tauchman, the Yankees have room enough on their roster to fit one or both of these players. Dahl would slip into the fourth (or fifth if/when they bring back Gardner?) outfielder role with Bradley slotting in behind Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton for sure, and maybe Chad Green. Either way, he’d lengthen the bullpen considerably all by himself.

Considering that the Reds non-tendered Bradley for what appear to be purely financial reasons, there isn’t much of a baseball case against him. He’s a durable reliever–at least 70 innings every year since he’s been a full time RP (not counting the pandemic season of 2020) who’s gotten results and has closer experience. Adding that to your bullpen is practically a no-brainer.

But if I know that, so does every team in baseball and there’s sure to be stiff competition for Bradley and his services. This is where the Yankees can and should flex their financial muscles to beat out other teams. It’s their greatest advantage and to not use it is handicapping themselves for the benefit of other teams. For as cut and dried as Bradley’s case is, Dahl’s is a touch murkier.

Dahl’s biggest positive is his age. He’ll be just 27 on Opening Day, so he still has projection and time on his side. Add that to the fact that he’s got a solid track record already and it’s easy to see why he’d be desirable on the free agent market. Despite a down 2020, this lefty hitter’s got a career .348 wOBA and 101 wRC+, though 2020’s 10 (!) mark drags him down a lot. His other years have been 113, 110, and 110. He’s also got a nice career ISO at .208.

Additionally, he can play all over the outfield, including center, which the Yankees need in a backup outfielder. There’s some conflicting noise on the defensive metrics–Statcast loved him in 2019; UZR and DRS did not–but even so, it seems he can hold his own out there. Seems great, but…

Dahl is often injured. He’s never played more than 100 games in a season and missed all of 2017 with an injury. An injured back up or depth piece more or less defeats the purpose of being a back up or depth. And aside from the injury concern, there are practical concerns about his offensive game.

While Dahl has shown power–see that aforementioned ISO–he also comes with a lot of strikeouts. His career rate is 26.0%, having risen each year he’s been in the league, topping out at just over 28% in 2020. Now far be it from me to knock a guy for striking out too many times, especially if it comes with power. However, the lack of walks is concerning–6.5% for his career. When he makes contact, though, Dahl is obviously productive, hitting for relatively high averages.

Given that he comes from the Rockies, there’s the Coors factor to consider, but were he coming to Yankee Stadium, he’d still be in a hitter’s park, especially as a lefty hitter who’s pulled the ball around 40% of his time in the majors. If he adds a little loft to his swing, he can take advantage of right field and be a dangerous weapon off the bench or fill in…provided he’s healthy.

To varying degrees, both Archie Bradley and David Dahl would improve the Yankee roster. Given Dahl’s injury history and that there may be other options out there, I’d pick Bradley if I had to choose between the two. But the Yankees should try to angle for both. Even with competition, non-tendered players are definitely at a loss for leverage and may not have many enticing offers. The Yankees should lean into their finances to outbid other teams for these undervalued players.

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5 Comments

  1. What are Bradley’s and Dahl’s projected contracts? Number of years and dollars per year? What kind of pitcher is Bradley — hard throwing K machine or ground ball machine? Lefty or righty? If you’re going to talk about signing these players, this info is too important to omit.

  2. Mungo

    Bradley would be nice, but I do have to wonder what price tag will be attached. He likely will have another team offer him a closer role, or at least an opportunity to close.

    Dahl could be a replacement for Gardner, but he’s so injury prone I feel he’ll simply add to the Yankees issue of having injury-prone OFers. His home-road splits aren’t great, but I am a believer in the Coors Effect, so his numbers should rise. The other issue is his defense. I haven’t seen him play enough, but the defensive numbers don’t look good. The role to replace Gardner likely remains Gardner.

    Both these players will get interest, but both also want to set themselves up for bigger paydays. Other teams will likely offer a clearer path to regular playing time for Dahl, and a more meaty bullpen role for Bradley.

  3. Dani

    Dahl is the kind of player lots of fans want their team to go after and down the road will be glad that their team didn’t sign him. Doesn’t walk, strikes out a ton and can’t stay on the field. That combination will age well 😛

  4. Bobbymac

    I’m not sure who isn’t too expensive for the Yankees.

  5. Troy

    I like both but (a) Bradley is going to be too expensive and (b) Dahl is going to want more at bats than the Yanks will promise him.

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