Rahul Sharma (Editor)

1997 Major League Baseball expansion draft

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Date(s)  November 18, 1997
Overall selections  70
Location  Phoenix Civic Center
1997 Major League Baseball expansion draft
Teams  Tampa Bay Devil Rays Arizona Diamondbacks
First selections  Tony Saunders, Tampa Bay Devil Rays Brian Anderson, Arizona Diamondbacks

The 1997 Major League Baseball expansion draft was conducted by Major League Baseball (MLB) on November 18, 1997, in the Phoenix Civic Center to stock the major league rosters of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks, new major league expansion franchises that were set to start play in the 1998 season. Tampa Bay was to join the American League East division, displacing the Detroit Tigers (who moved to the American League Central division, thus displacing the Milwaukee Brewers, who moved to the National League Central division), and Arizona joined the National League West division.



Following the success of the 1993 expansion, which added the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins, MLB in 1994 set up an expansion committee to add two new expansion teams. Tampa Bay and Phoenix were chosen for the two expansion franchises.


Similar to the 1992 expansion draft, both expansion teams selected 35 players. The draft was divided into three rounds. Each team would select 14 players in round 1, 14 players in round 2, and 7 players in round 3. Tampa Bay general manager Chuck LaMar and Arizona general manager Joe Garagiola, Jr. oversaw their teams' selections.

The Devil Rays and Diamondbacks could pick any player not on the protected lists of the 28 other teams, although no team could lose more than one player in a given round. The protected list for each team consisted of:

  • For the first round, 15 players from the rosters of their entire organization—both their 40-man roster, plus all minor league affiliates.
  • Each team could add three more players to its protected list after each round.
  • In addition to the above, players chosen in the 1996 and 1997 amateur drafts were automatically protected, plus players who were 18 or younger when signed in 1995.
  • Players who were free agents after the end of the 1997 season need not be protected.
  • As with the 1992 expansion draft, the order was determined by a coin toss. The winner of the toss could choose either: (a) The first overall pick in the expansion draft or (b) allow the other team to pick first and receive both the second and third overall expansion draft picks and the right to pick first in the subsequent rounds of the expansion draft. Tampa Bay won the toss and chose to select first.


    The Devil Rays reportedly considered trading the player they were to select first. They chose Tony Saunders from the Florida Marlins.

    Post-draft trades

    Once the draft was completed a number of trades were made. Teams had to wait until after the draft or risk losing their newly acquired players because they were not on their protected lists.

  • The Devil Rays traded Bobby Abreu to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker
  • The Devil Rays traded Andy Sheets and Brian Boehringer to the San Diego Padres for John Flaherty
  • The Devil Rays traded Dmitri Young to the Cincinnati Reds for Mike Kelly
  • The Devil Rays purchased Fred McGriff from the Atlanta Braves
  • The Diamondbacks traded Gabe Alvarez, Joe Randa, and Matt Drews to the Detroit Tigers for Travis Fryman
  • The Diamondbacks traded Scott Winchester to the Cincinnati Reds for Félix Rodríguez
  • The Diamondbacks traded Jesus Martinez to the Florida Marlins for Devon White
  • The Diamondbacks traded Chuck McElroy to the Colorado Rockies for Harvey Pulliam
  • Aftermath

    The Diamondbacks intended to spend money. The day prior to the expansion draft, they signed Jay Bell to a $34 million contract across five years. Two weeks following the draft, the Diamondbacks traded Fryman and Martin for Matt Williams.

    The Devil Rays and Diamondbacks had differing results in their first years in MLB. Both teams altered their initial plans of developing youth; the Devil Rays acquired sluggers Jose Canseco, Vinny Castilla, and Greg Vaughn while the Diamondbacks added Randy Johnson, Todd Stottlemyre, Steve Finley, Armando Reynoso, Greg Swindell and Greg Colbrunn. While the Devil Rays consistently finished last in the AL East, the Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series.


    1997 Major League Baseball expansion draft Wikipedia

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