The last MLB expansion draft took place on November 18th, 1997. Each of the 28 existing teams was able to initially protect 15 players, with the Devil Rays and Diamondbacks mostly alternating picks to fill their new rosters.
The first round consisted of one player being taken from each of the 28 teams, giving the Devil Rays and D’Backs 14 players each. At that point, each of the 28 teams was able to protect an additional three players. After the completion of the second round, each team added another three players to their protected list. In the third round, the Rays and D’Backs would each take an additional seven players, with each new club ending up with 35 in total.
Detailed rules can be found here, but basically each team’s best prospects were not eligible for the draft. Still, about a quarter of the players chosen were minor leaguers. Also, players with no-trade clauses or ten-and-five rights had to be put on protected lists unless they waived those rights. And there would be no reason to protect players eligible for free agency.
We thought it would be fun to determine each team’s current 15-player protected list, as if a new two-team expansion draft is scheduled for November. For simplicity’s sake, only players with MLB experience will be eligible for our mock expansion draft.
Next up, we’ll shape a 15-player protected list for the Blue Jays.
Free agents Matt Shoemaker, Ken Giles, Joe Panik, and Anthony Bass will be excluded. Chase Anderson and Rafael Dolis have club options for 2021. For this exercise, we won’t force the Jays to use protected spots on them, even though they might prefer to retain one or both.
I’ve decided to make any Baseball America top 100 prospect with a 2020 ETA eligible for this mock expansion draft, under the assumption that they would reach the Majors this year. I’ll also automatically put such players on the team’s protected list. That means we’ll add the Blue Jays’ Nate Pearson here, and I’ll make adjustments to include the Yankees’ Deivi Garcia and the Red Sox’ Bobby Dalbec.
Hyun-Jin Ryu automatically takes another of the Blue Jays’ 15 spots due to his no-trade protection. After Pearson and Ryu, that leaves 13 more players to protect. I’ll also put these four players on the list:
That leaves nine spots for these 24 players:
With that, we turn it over to the MLBTR readership! In the poll below, please select exactly nine players you think the Blue Jays should protect in our upcoming mock expansion draft. Click here to view the results.