Which players would the Mets protect in an Expansion Draft?

New York Mets Introduce Justin Verlander
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Who would the New York Mets protect in a potential expansion draft? With recent talk around baseball centering around potential expansion, especially with a group of investors from Nashville led by former MLB player Dave Stewart making headlines, I thought it'd be interesting to analyze what players the Mets could protect in a hypothetical expansion draft should it occur tomorrow.

For historical reference, there hasn't been an expansion draft in Major League Baseball since 1997, which was when both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks were added to the league. There are certain rules that were followed during the 1997 Expansion Draft, similar to the previous Expansion Draft in 1993 that we will follow for all intents and purposes of this article.

The Mets would have some tough choices on their hands should they have to protect players from a potential expansion draft.

Both the Diamondbacks and the Rays could pick a player who was not on a protected list of a Major League organization, but no MLB team could lose more than one player in the draft to each respective organization. The protected list of players included the following rules:

  • For the first round, 15 players from the rosters of their entire organization from both their 40-man roster, plus all Minor League Baseball affiliates.
  • Each team could add three more players to their protected list after concluding each round.
  • Teams are required to protect any player with 10-5 rights or a no-trade clause in their contract.
  • All players in an MLB organization were eligible to be drafted, with the exception of those with no prior Major League experience who had less than three years of 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 set to become free agents after the end of the upcoming season could not be protected

When looking at these rules you automatically start thinking of your cornerstone players first such as Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Edwin Diaz, and Brandon Nimmo whom you would want to protect. After analyzing your cornerstone players you'd then want to take a look at some of your younger position players as well in regards to protecting them from being poached from another organization.

For a team like the Mets who are in win-now mode losing some of their top talents in an expansion draft would be a massive blow to their competing chances. However, I compiled a list of the 15 Mets players I would protect based on the 1997 rules going into the first round of our hypothetical Expansion Draft below.

  • Position Players: Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, Jeff McNeil, Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Mark Canha, Ronny Mauricio.
  • Pitchers: Edwin Diaz, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, Tylor Megill, David Peterson.

This list was very hard to come up with as the Mets would be dangling players out there to be drafted in the first round such as Luis Guillorme, Mark Vientos, Omar Navarez, Tomas Nido, Eduardo Escobar, Drew Smith, among others. However, as noted in the rules after the first round the front office can add three players to its protected list in each following round which would help ease a potential loss of a contributor.

I'd love to hear from other fellow Mets fans if I got this list correct or if you would swap anybody in and out of that first-round list of protected players. It's certainly an interesting discussion to be had and may become more realistic in a couple of years with Major League Baseball seemingly on the horizon of expansion.

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