Muscle Sport Magazine

Diamondbacks & Devil Rays Expansion Draft – OTD in Baseball 1997


The 1990s were a decade of expansion in Major League Baseball and four teams were added overall. The 1993 season saw the addition of the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies and five years later, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks joined them. But their respective rosters needed to be filled first.

On this day in baseball back in 1997, the expansion draft took place and with it came a number of unique decisions that would determine the early success of one club, while the other wallowed in despair for numerous seasons.

Both clubs seemed to have a similar strategy for their early campaigns, one that went away from the usual youth plan for a veteran-laden one. But Arizona made their moves to gather the right players to make a title run a few years down the road, while Tampa Bay acquired many washed-up names with the hope that familiarity with them would sell tickets.

Tony Saunders was the first player chosen by the Devil Rays and there were a few trades by both teams after the draft commenced. One came back to haunt Tampa when they flipped Bobby Abreau to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker. By Opening Day, they had brought in Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff and Wilson Alvarez. They spent a decade losing and won their only American League pennant in 2008. The-now Rays have been one of the better teams in the ‘junior circuit, but still looking for their first title.

The D-Backs, on the other hand, made some shrewd moves to add Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley and more to win the 2001 World Series in seven games against the juggernaut New York Yankees, ending their dynasty.

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