|1997 Major League Baseball expansion draft|
The logo for the 1997 MLB expansion draft
|Date(s)||November 18, 1997|
|Location||Phoenix Civic Center|
|70 total selections|
|First selection||Tony Saunders (Tampa Bay Devil Rays)|
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 joined the American League (AL) East division, displacing the Detroit Tigers (who moved to the AL Central division, thus displacing the Milwaukee Brewers, who moved to the National League (NL) Central division, and Arizona joined the NL 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.
- All players in an organization were eligible to be drafted, except those with no prior major league experience who had less than three years service if signed at age 19 or older, or had less than four years of service if signed at age 18 or younger.
- 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. Arizona won the toss and chose to select second.
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
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.
- "Expansion teams draft prospects then get caught up in trade winds". The Washington Times. November 19, 1997. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Justice, Richard (March 3, 1994). "Baseball eyes addition of its 29th, 30th teams". The Washington Post. p. D1. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Lipton, Eric; Maske, Mark (March 10, 1995). "Virginia gets no promise - Locals eye existing teams - Tampa, Phoenix get new ones". The Washington Post. p. F1. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Topkin, Marc (November 16, 1996). "Expansion team feels another draft coming Series: DEVIL RAYS REPORT; COUNTDOWN to OPENING DAY: 505 days". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Beaton, Rod (November 18, 1997). "Devil Rays weighing offers for first choice in the draft". USA Today. p. 2C. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Diaz, George (November 19, 1997). "DEVIL RAYS GRAB MCGRIFF, SAUNDERS TAMPA BAY TRADED FOR ATLANTA'S FRED MCGRIFF AND TOOK FLORIDA'S TONY SAUNDERS WITH ITS TOP PICK". Orlando Sentinel. p. C1. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Chass, Murray (November 18, 1997). "BASEBALL EXPANSION DRAFT; Arizona Gives Bell $34 Million For 5 Years". The New York Times.
- Kepner, Tyler (October 29, 2001). "World Series; Williams Ends Boos With Just One Swing". The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
- Chass, Murray (October 26, 2001). "WORLD SERIES PREVIEW; Arizona, Tampa Bay: One Is Up, The Other..." The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
- "sabr.org Reprint of Boston Baseball article with draft rules". Retrieved March 17, 2006.
- "Expansion Draft List". McCook Daily Gazette. Associated Press. November 19, 1997. Retrieved October 18, 2011.