While there has certainly been conversations about where the next expansion team in MLB could launch, what if the league expansion draft was today?
Who would the Red Sox keep with their 15 spots?
The last MLB expansion draft took place on Nov. 18, 1997. Each of the 28 existing teams was able to initially protect 15 players, with the Devil Rays and Diamondbacks mostly alternating picks to fill their new rosters. The first round consisted of one player per team (28 at the time), adding 14 to the Rays’ roster and giving 14 to the Diamondbacks.
Each team’s best prospects were not eligible for the draft. Players with no-trade clauses or 10-and-five rights had to be put on protected lists unless they waived those rights. Still, nearly a quarter of the players chosen were minor leaguers. 2021 free agents Mitch Moreland, Martin Perez, Collin McHugh, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar, and Brandon Workman will all be excluded.
Without further adieu, here is a look at who would stay and who might not if an MLB expansion draft started today.
Due to their trade rights in the current contracts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale, and J.D. Martinez will be excluded and automatically consume four spots. To add to the no-brainer part of the list, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Alex Verdugo, and Michael Chavis would be preserved.
That leaves the Red Sox with only five more spots left out of the 19 players available.
An expansion draft is the time to escape bad contracts that the team does not want to carry over to the next season. In this scenario, Nathan Eovaldi will not be picked up within these five spots. Another bonus is to let go of position depth players who won’t get too much time due to roster size. Heath Hembree, Darwinson Hernandez, and Colten Brewer will not be making it past this stage. With so many pitchers fighting for the last five slots, a lot of familiar and unfamiliar names have to go.
14 players are still available, but the tough decisions come down to availability, performance, and money.
The odd men out are Tzu-Wei-Lin, Matt Hall, Josh Osich, Kevin Plawecki, Mike Shawaryn, Jefferey Springs, Josh Taylor, Phillips Valdez, and Ryan Weber.
Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Jose Peraza, Austin Brice, and Marcus Walden take the last five spots due to the lack of bullpen depth.
Just because a player doesn’t make a selection doesn’t mean they are 100 percent gone because there are still 29 other teams who have to make the same difficult decisions.