The Nationals have agreed to minor league deals with outfielder David Dahl and right-hander Daniel Ponce de Leon, reports Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post (Twitter links). Dahl was recently released by the Brewers, while Ponce De Leon was released from the Mariners organization. Both had been playing on minor league deals in Triple-A at the time of their release.
Neither player has appeared on a major league roster this year, but they’d both had extensive big league work before 2022. Dahl, a former tenth overall pick and top Rockies prospect, reached the majors in 2016. He hit .315/.359/.500 down the stretch that season, but injuries helped keep him out of MLB action the following year. That became a familiar occurrence, as Dahl missed notable time in each of the next three seasons with foot, ankle, back and shoulder issues.
The left-handed hitter was generally effective when healthy, at least early in his career. He combined for a .291/.342/.528 line while playing just more than half of Colorado’s games between 2018-19, earning an All-Star nod in the latter season. After losing most of the shortened 2020 campaign to injury, however, he was surprisingly non-tendered by the Rockies. He caught on with the Rangers on a big league deal heading into last season, but his results were disastrous. Dahl hit only .210/.247/.322 over 220 plate appearances in Texas. He was released last August and caught on with the Brewers on a minor league deal.
Dahl had spent the past year with Milwaukee’s top affiliate in Nashville. He played well there, including a .294/.357/.468 showing through 67 games this season. Nevertheless, the Brewers elected against giving him another MLB look, and he was granted his release a few weeks ago. The 28-year-old will try to play his way back to the majors on a Washington club that is rebuilding and likely to deal a few hitters over the coming weeks. Juan Soto is obviously the biggest name on the market, but each of Nelson Cruz and Josh Bell are virtual locks to change hands before the August 2 deadline. Cruz has taken almost the at-bats at designated hitter, so there could be at-bats available for Dahl there for the season’s final couple months.
Ponce de Leon, 30, pitched for the Cardinals from 2018-21. He broke in with some promise as a swingman, posting a sub-4.00 ERA in each of his first two seasons while generating a solid number of strikeouts. He punched out an elite 31.5% of opponents during the shortened 2020 season, but that year also saw him walk a career-high 14% of batters faced. Those control woes persisted last season, and St. Louis designated him for assignment after he posted a 6.21 ERA through 33 1/3 innings.
Signed by Seattle to a minor league deal in April, he’d spent the year with their top affiliate in Tacoma. Ponce de Leon was hit hard over 16 starts, posting a 7.95 ERA with an elevated 12.7% walk rate and surrendering more than two homers per nine innings. His 24.1% strikeout rate there was fine but not at the heights he’d flashed in prior seasons, and the M’s let him go this week. Washington will add him as non-roster depth capable of working either out of the rotation or the bullpen.