1997 Major League Baseball expansion draft

On November 18, 1997, Major League Baseball (MLB) held an expansion draft to allow two expansion teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, to build their rosters prior to debuting in the National League West and American League East divisions, respectively, in the 1998 MLB season. The draft took place in the Phoenix Civic Center in Phoenix, Arizona.[1]

1997 Major League Baseball expansion draft
The logo for the 1997 MLB expansion draft
General information
Date(s)November 18, 1997
LocationPhoenix Civic Center
70 total selections
First selectionTony Saunders (Tampa Bay Devil Rays)


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 expansion teams.[2] Tampa Bay and Phoenix were chosen for the two expansion franchises.[3]


Similar to the 1992 expansion draft, both expansion teams selected 35 players.[4] 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.[4]
  • Each team could add three more players to its protected list after each round.[4]
  • 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.[5]
  • 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.


The Devil Rays reportedly considered trading the player they were to select first.[6] They chose Tony Saunders from the Florida Marlins.[7]


Note, each noted All-Star player achieved that status in later season(s).

The Rays traded Bobby Abreu prior to the season for Kevin Stocker.
Miguel Cairo has played for 10 different Major League teams at 7 different positions (counting DH).
Dmitri Young was selected by the Devil Rays from the Reds, and then traded back to the Reds.
Round Pick Player Position From To
11 Tony Saunders Left-handed pitcherFlorida MarlinsTampa Bay Devil Rays
12 Brian Anderson Left-handed pitcherCleveland IndiansArizona Diamondbacks
13 Jeff Suppan Right-handed pitcherBoston Red SoxArizona Diamondbacks
14 Quinton McCracken OutfielderColorado RockiesTampa Bay Devil Rays
15 Gabe Alvarez Third basemanSan Diego PadresArizona Diamondbacks
16 Bobby Abreu OutfielderHouston AstrosTampa Bay Devil Rays
17 Jorge Fábregas CatcherChicago White SoxArizona Diamondbacks
18 Miguel Cairo Second basemanChicago CubsTampa Bay Devil Rays
19 Karim García OutfielderLos Angeles DodgersArizona Diamondbacks
110 Rich Butler OutfielderToronto Blue JaysTampa Bay Devil Rays
111 Edwin Díaz InfielderTexas RangersArizona Diamondbacks
112 Bob Smith Third basemanAtlanta BravesTampa Bay Devil Rays
113 Cory Lidle Right-handed pitcherNew York MetsArizona Diamondbacks
114 Jason Johnson Right-handed pitcherPittsburgh PiratesTampa Bay Devil Rays
115 Joel Adamson Left-handed pitcherMilwaukee BrewersArizona Diamondbacks
116 Dmitri Young First basemanCincinnati RedsTampa Bay Devil Rays
117 Ben Ford Right-handed pitcherNew York YankeesArizona Diamondbacks
118 Esteban Yan Right-handed pitcherBaltimore OriolesTampa Bay Devil Rays
119 Yamil Benitez OutfielderKansas City RoyalsArizona Diamondbacks
120 Mike DiFelice CatcherSt. Louis CardinalsTampa Bay Devil Rays
121 Neil Weber Left-handed pitcherMontreal ExposArizona Diamondbacks
122 Bubba Trammell OutfielderDetroit TigersTampa Bay Devil Rays
123 Jason Boyd Right-handed pitcherPhiladelphia PhilliesArizona Diamondbacks
124 Andy Sheets InfielderSeattle MarinersTampa Bay Devil Rays
125 Brent Brede OutfielderMinnesota TwinsArizona Diamondbacks
126 Dennis Springer Right-handed pitcherAnaheim AngelsTampa Bay Devil Rays
127 Tony Batista InfielderOakland AthleticsArizona Diamondbacks
128 Dan Carlson Right-handed pitcherSan Francisco GiantsTampa Bay Devil Rays
229 Tom Martin Left-handed pitcherHouston AstrosArizona Diamondbacks
230 Brian Boehringer Right-handed pitcherNew York YankeesTampa Bay Devil Rays
231 Omar Daal Left-handed pitcherToronto Blue JaysArizona Diamondbacks
232 Mike Duvall Left-handed pitcherFlorida MarlinsTampa Bay Devil Rays
233 Scott Winchester Right-handed pitcherCincinnati RedsArizona Diamondbacks
234 John LeRoy Right-handed pitcherAtlanta BravesTampa Bay Devil Rays
235 Clint Sodowsky Right-handed pitcherPittsburgh PiratesArizona Diamondbacks
236 Jim Mecir Right-handed pitcherBoston Red SoxTampa Bay Devil Rays
237 Danny Klassen InfielderMilwaukee BrewersArizona Diamondbacks
238 Bryan Rekar Right-handed pitcherColorado RockiesTampa Bay Devil Rays
239 Matt Drews Right-handed pitcherDetroit TigersArizona Diamondbacks
240 Rick Gorecki Right-handed pitcherLos Angeles DodgersTampa Bay Devil Rays
241 Todd Erdos Right-handed pitcherSan Diego PadresArizona Diamondbacks
242 Ramón Tatís Left-handed pitcherChicago CubsTampa Bay Devil Rays
243 Chris Clemons Right-handed pitcherChicago White SoxArizona Diamondbacks
244 Kerry Robinson OutfielderSt. Louis CardinalsTampa Bay Devil Rays
245 David Dellucci OutfielderBaltimore OriolesArizona Diamondbacks
246 Steve Cox First basemanOakland AthleticsTampa Bay Devil Rays
247 Damian Miller CatcherMinnesota TwinsArizona Diamondbacks
248 Albie Lopez Right-handed pitcherCleveland IndiansTampa Bay Devil Rays
249 Héctor Carrasco Right-handed pitcherKansas City RoyalsArizona Diamondbacks
250 José Paniagua Right-handed pitcherMontreal ExposTampa Bay Devil Rays
251 Hanley Frias ShortstopTexas RangersArizona Diamondbacks
252 Carlos Mendoza OutfielderNew York MetsTampa Bay Devil Rays
253 Bob Wolcott Right-handed pitcherSeattle MarinersArizona Diamondbacks
254 Ryan Karp Left-handed pitcherPhiladelphia PhilliesTampa Bay Devil Rays
255 Mike Bell Third basemanAnaheim AngelsArizona Diamondbacks
256 Santos Hernández Right-handed pitcherSan Francisco GiantsTampa Bay Devil Rays
357 Joe Randa Third basemanPittsburgh PiratesArizona Diamondbacks
358 Randy Winn OutfielderFlorida MarlinsTampa Bay Devil Rays
359 Jesús Martínez Left-handed pitcherLos Angeles DodgersArizona Diamondbacks
360 Terrell Wade Left-handed pitcherAtlanta BravesTampa Bay Devil Rays
361 Russ Springer Right-handed pitcherHouston AstrosArizona Diamondbacks
362 Aaron Ledesma InfielderBaltimore OriolesTampa Bay Devil Rays
363 Bryan Corey Right-handed pitcherDetroit TigersArizona Diamondbacks
364 Brooks Kieschnick OutfielderChicago CubsTampa Bay Devil Rays
365 Kelly Stinnett CatcherMilwaukee BrewersArizona Diamondbacks
366 Luke Wilcox OutfielderNew York YankeesTampa Bay Devil Rays
367 Chuck McElroy Left-handed pitcherChicago White SoxArizona Diamondbacks
368 Herbert Perry InfielderCleveland IndiansTampa Bay Devil Rays
369 Marty Janzen Right-handed pitcherToronto Blue JaysArizona Diamondbacks
370 Vaughn Eshelman Left-handed pitcherOakland AthleticsTampa Bay Devil Rays

Post-draft trades

The Rays purchased Tampa native Fred McGriff from the Atlanta Braves after the draft.

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.[7]

  • 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.[8] Two weeks following the draft, the Diamondbacks traded Fryman and Martin for Matt Williams.[9]

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 future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs and pitcher Wilson Alvarez along with sluggers Jose Canseco, Vinny Castilla, and Greg Vaughn while the Diamondbacks added Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Luis Gonzalez, Todd Stottlemyre, Steve Finley, Armando Reynoso, Greg Swindell, Tony Womack, Mark Grace, Reggie Sanders, Craig Counsell and Greg Colbrunn.[10] While the Devil Rays consistently finished last in the AL East for the next decade, the Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series.[10]


  1. "Expansion teams draft prospects then get caught up in trade winds". The Washington Times. November 19, 1997. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
  2. Justice, Richard (March 3, 1994). "Baseball eyes addition of its 29th, 30th teams". The Washington Post. p. D1. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. "NowHitting".
  6. Beaton, Rod (November 18, 1997). "Devil Rays weighing offers for first choice in the draft". USA Today. p. 2C. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
  8. Chass, Murray (November 18, 1997). "BASEBALL EXPANSION DRAFT; Arizona Gives Bell $34 Million For 5 Years". The New York Times.
  9. Kepner, Tyler (October 29, 2001). "World Series; Williams Ends Boos With Just One Swing". The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  10. Chass, Murray (October 26, 2001). "WORLD SERIES PREVIEW; Arizona, Tampa Bay: One Is Up, The Other..." The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
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