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Tampa Bay Rays: Which 15 Players to Protect in an Expansion Draft

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 07: Charlie Morton #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 07, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Chris O'Meara - Pool/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 07: Charlie Morton #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 07, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Chris O'Meara - Pool/Getty Images) /
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Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t that long ago when the Tampa Bay Rays were siphoning off players from other teams to stock their roster in the 1997 expansion draft. Today we take a look at who the Rays would protect in a hypothetical draft right now.

The Tampa Bay Rays had an eventful expansion draft in 1997. There were intriguing moments baseball historians love to recall with 20/20 retrospective vision such as selecting Bobby Abreau and then flipping him to Philadelphia for shortstop Kevin Stocker. It’s an interesting way to shake up the baseball world.

Portland, Montreal, Nashville, these are just a few cities that have been vocal about wanting a major-league team. There are so many great players all over the world and TV contracts are seemingly worth more than the GDP of entire countries. It seems like a good time to expand.

According to Forbes, even the “small-market teams” like the Rays brought in $264 million in revenue with an operating income of $68 million in 2019.

MLBTradeRumors.com recently asked the question, who should the Rays protect in the event of a surprise expansion draft?

We are going to base this list on the previous expansion draft’s rules.

  • You get to protect 15 players in the first round then add three more in the second round and another three in the third. Today, we will try and project who the Rays would project in such a scenario.
  • Players with a no-trade clause or 10-5 rights must be protected.
  • Players with no prior major-league experience are not eligible to be drafted, unless…
  • Players signed at age 19 or older can be drafted if they have at least three years of minor-league service time.
  • Players signed at age 18 or younger can be drafted if they have at least four years of minor-league service time.

So, Wander Franco is automatically ineligible since he has only played two years in the minor leagues.

There will be some very tough decisions made since the Rays are stacked with so much young talent. Let’s quit talking and get to work.

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