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MLB Mock Expansion Project: Protecting the D-backs

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In the event of a further MLB expansion, who would we lock up?

Chicago White Sox v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

I received the following email last week:

My name is H.W. Linwood, and I’m a college student who with a strong interest in baseball analytics and operations. I’m especially fascinated by the concept of MLB expansion, and was hoping to run a mock expansion draft (like this 2014 one from Beyond the Box Score) this offseason in order to examine the viability of MLB expansion in the near future. I’m curious how well set up an expansion team might be to contend in the present and future, and think this project could give a decent approximation of that.

When designing the project, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to validly complete the project alone for a number of reasons. For one, I don’t feel that I am intimately familiar enough with each and every team to accurately formulate their protected lists. Additionally, I worry that doing the protected lists myself while also serving as the mock GM for one of the expansion teams could introduce a conflict of interest, detracting from the validity of the thought experiment.

This is where I’m asking for help. I figured that the best way to come up with protected lists is to crowdsource them. I plan to use Reddit’s team pages to get some responses for protected lists, but figured it was also worth reaching out to reputed team blogs and bloggers to ask for the opinions of them and their readers. I was wondering if anyone might be willing to write up a protected list for their team and/or possibly ask their readers to do the same.

And the last would be where you lot come in. I’d like to crowdsource the list of players who would be protected by the D-backs in the event of new franchises going to, say, Montreal and Las Vegas.

The guidelines are as follows:

  • Each existing MLB protects 15 players in Round 1. All players with full or partial no trade clauses must be among these 15.
  • One player from each organization is then selected by the expansion teams.
  • Each existing team then protects three more players.
  • Another round of expansion picks, one from each team.
  • Each existing team protects three more players before the third and final round of the draft.
  • Both major and minor league players are eligible for the draft unless exempt. Minor league players are exempt (and need not be placed on protected lists) if they are a college draftee from 2017 or 2018, a high school draftee from 2016, 2017, or 2018, or an international amateur signing from 2016, 2017, or 2018. If a player is on the MLB roster (i.e. Ohtani) these exemptions do not apply.
  • Pending free agents need not be protected.

Therefore, what I’d be looking for is your list of 21 players, in descending order of protection worthiness. Bear in mind that only the top 15 will be “untouchable”, as #16-18 will be added AFTER the first round of expansion picks, and #19-21 after the second round. I’ll scope out the various lists, probably on a 21 points for first, down to one point for last, and figure out the crowdsourced compilated version.

There will be some interesting decisions to be made. Should we protect Zack Greinke? Or would we welcome an expansion team taking him off our hands? What about Paul Goldchmidt? He only has one year under contract left, so would we be better off using the spot for someone with more team control? Your choices might also depend on whether or not you are part of #TeamRebuild. Therefore, explanations of what your though process was in coming up with your list, would also be welcome.