In 2014 baseball returned to Montreal for the first time since the beloved Expos became the Washington Nationals, and while it was only exhibition games played in Olympic Stadium, hordes of fans came out to see the baseball’s return to Montreal. The turnout and excitement that the Montreal baseball fans showed convinced Major League Baseball to hold exhibition games in Olympic Stadium in 2015 and 2016 as well. Each year the Montreal fans do not disappoint and pack the stadium, excited to seize their sole opportunity at seeing live baseball in Montreal.
Those same fans may not only have one chance anymore, though, as the consistent turnout and excitement generated has stirred thoughts among those in the commissioner’s office of a possible team returning full-time to Montreal. The idea has been pushed by the people of Montreal, including mayor Denis Coderre, and there is reportedly a team of buyers willing to purchase a team to bring baseball back to Montreal. But of course, you can’t just spring up a baseball team, and effective major leaguers don’t just grow out of the ground. That’s why MLB has an expansion draft.
Let’s say for a moment that the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s both resolve their stadium situations and stay put. Well then, if a team were really to move back to Montreal it would have to be an expansion team, which would lead to the first expansion draft in nearly 20 years. What is an expansion draft and how does it wok? Let’s discuss.
The Rules: As mentioned above, an expansion team would have to somehow acquire the necessary talent to fill the roster. That’s where the expansion draft comes in. Each of the thirty teams would have to enter their players on the 40-man roster as eligible to be “drafted” by the new team, in this case the Expos 2.0. But worry not Angels, Nationals, and Dodgers fans, you wouldn’t lose Mike Trout, or Bryce Harper, or Clayton Kershaw, as every team can submit a list of up to 15 players who are protected from the drafting team(s). Also protected are players with less than 3 years of service if signed at 19 or older, players with less than 4 years of service if signed at 18 or younger, and players drafted in either of the last two amateur drafts. Players with 10-and-5 rights must be included on their team’s protected list, as must players with no-trade clauses (sorry Reds, I guess you’re stuck with Brandon Phillips again.)
Now, as for the actual draft: There are three rounds, with 15 picks in each of the first two rounds and five picks in the third. That would give the new Expos a grand total of 35 players. It does get harder to get better players as the rounds proceed, however, every team can choose an additional three players to protect after each round.
So let’s get to it, starting with the players protected by their teams. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, we will limit those eligible for drafting and protection to the 40-man rosters and no-brainers like Carson Fulmer or A.J. Reed.