The Detroit Tigers social media phenomenon #DahltoDetroit is more about desperation than David Dahl
There has been a craze on Twitter over the last week. Following the #BauertoAnaheim hashtag deployed by Angels fans across the country, Detroit Tigers fans have made their own ploy to try and lure the recently-released outfielder David Dahl to the Motor City.
The person who started it isn’t entirely clear, but Scott Bentley and others have been very public about their efforts to get the hashtag trending and to get acknowledgment from the media nationally:
David Dahl’s strengths and shortcomings as a player have been covered fairly extensively since this craze began. In fact, so much so that it has some who follow the team a bit perplexed on why the fans have leached onto Dahl as their unanimous free-agent prize. Mainly, Dahl has been astoundingly injury-prone. Co-site expert Chris Brown labeled Dahl as “the left-handed-hitting JaCoby Jones.”
But perhaps the movement isn’t about Dahl at all. Perhaps it is a yearning for some sense of effort and creativity on the part of the front office, who have historically strayed from players with many risks and subsequent upside. The medicals for Dahl could be messier than we even realize as fans, which would make a release by Colorado more understandable and a signing by Detroit inadvisable.
I hope that fans realize that, while fun, this hashtag means little when it comes to the day-to-day decision-making of a front office that likely already has their off-season plan mapped out. As much as owners and players talk about fans, they don’t play or operate for fans. Independently, while Dahl acknowledged the appreciation himself, who knows if he wants to play here?
Dahl to Detroit is a microcosm for just how low fans’ expectations really are for the organization. Dahl was non-tendered with his estimated salary being $2.6 million; meaning he figures to sign for less on the open market. That’s nearly a third of what CJ Cron signed for just last winter. On the other hand, it is likely his affordability that is part of what has fans intrigued.
It is early in the off-season so withholding judgment is wise, but based on reports it does not appear the club will be in on the top-tier free agents: DJ LeMaheiu, George Springer, or JT Realmuto (although DJ to Detroit does have a nice ring to it). Rather than clamoring for those in the bargain bin, maybe there needs to be a larger discussion on why the club, thought to be ‘opportunistic,’ would not take advantage while many clubs are contracting payroll.
Best I can tell, the trend isn’t some Don Kelly-Esque admiration for David Dahl–many feel he would make a tangible improvement to the club. That crowd is right. When Dahl is healthy, he is almost always productive and would assuredly be an upgrade from the Victor Reyes/Christin Stewart/Jorge Bonafacio tandem in left field.
But why only go for a slightly better option for a team trying to build up? With no prospects ready to step into a big-league role, players like Michael Brantley, Joc Pederson, or even Marcell Ozuna would provide a more tangible improvement without the extensive injury history.
Admittedly, I am likely being a scrooge on some holiday fun and cheer that has brought a beaten-down fanbase together for the holidays. After all, their approach is less likely to end in disappointment. It just feels Dahl at this point in his career is more of a possible sneaky-good signing than a social media-campaign sensation. Some possibilities for campaigns I’ll support include, but are not limited to DJ to Detroit, Make the Detroit Tigers Great Again, or even Tigers Spring for Springer. But sure, Dahl to Detroit.