Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
Since it’s a historically stagnant off-season, let’s revisit the prospect of what the Mets would do if ever the league decided to expand and add another franchise.
The rules from the 1997 expansion draft it must have been a daunting task for the clubs to figure out who to protect from the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (as they were known at the time).
For round one you were only allowed to protect 15 players from your entire organization. This group of resources was not just your 40 man roster but anyone from the entire depths of the minor league system as well.
After the first round ended, a team was allowed to add 3 more players to its protected list. If you were lucky enough to have survived unscathed in round one, now you’d have 18 players that could no longer be selected by the new teams.
The teams chose 14 players in round 1, another 14 players in round 2 and 7 players in round three. There were no restrictions placed on resource distribution. Theoretically both new franchises could have raided the rosters of just one or two teams and that would have been perfectly permissible. Had that happened, by round three a less popular team would have had 21 players protected.
Anyone who was a free agent at the end of the previous season was exempt from protection by their former club.
So now that you know the rules, let’s play GM and figure out who on the Mets you would protect in round 1, who you would add in round 2 and who you would add in round 3.
Here’s my crack at it:
Jacob de Grom
After the first round I would add:
After the second round I would add:
Assuming that the existing players’ salaries are the burden of the drafting team, I felt you could be safe in assuming no one would likely take Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker or Jay Bruce. Although his salary is high, you have to protect Cespedes.
Since the club has a 2018 option on Cabrera, I figure you have to protect him. Lucas Duda is a relative bargain for a 30 HR albeit flawed slugger. You might quibble with some of the lower minors talent as high as it is here such as Thomas Szapucki, but the selecting teams get 35 players in total to start so there is room for them to hold some in the minors as well. I figure you have to make sure your crown jewels don’t get snapped up too soon.
There were tough calls. I’m guessing the injury history on Wuilmer Becerra pushes him behind Desmond Lindsay. I also think they would be willing to part ways with Travis d'Arnaud and Seth Lugo as well as most of the bullpen. Some goners for sure would include Wilmer Flores, Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini and perhaps even TJ Rivera.
There are no right or wrong answers here, but have at it. Who would you protect and when?