Two weeks ago, the NHL’s (Las) Vegas Golden Knights held the first major league expansion draft in 13 years. It’s been almost two decades since the Rays and Diamondbacks got the chance to poach players from rosters around the league, and I thought it would be fun to think about what would happen if Major League Baseball did something similar. So I set out to figure out which players each organization would protect from being selected if, let’s say, the Montreal Youppis or Monterrey Canyons joined the league.
For the purposes of this mock exercise, I’ll use rules similar to the rules of the last MLB expansion draft, which took place after the 1997 season, and I’ll assume that this draft is being completed after the 2017 season. This means that any player who is set for free agency this winter will not be protected and that we’ll ignore what will likely happen at next month’s trade deadline. We are also not factoring in no-trade clauses.
Here are our rules from 1997, adjusted to the 2017 baseball world:
- For the first round, teams may protect 15 players from the rosters of their entire organization—both their 40-man roster, plus all minor league affiliates.
- In addition, players chosen in the 2016 and 2017 amateur drafts were automatically protected, plus players who were 18 or younger when drafted and signed in 2015. These players are listed as notable exemptions. Note: This does not include international signings, in this edition.
- Players who are free agents after the end of the 2017 season need not be protected.
Special thanks to SB Nation’s team site managers for their help in compiling these lists.
Protected: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, OF A.J. Pollock, OF David Peralta, INF Brandon Drury, INF Chris Owings, 3B Jake Lamb, RHP Archie Bradley, RHP Zack Godley, LHP Robbie Ray, RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP Anthony Banda, LHP Patrick Corbin, INF Domingo Leyba, INF Dawel Lugo, RHP Shelby Miller
Automatically protected: 1B Pavin Smith, RHP Jon Duplantier, 3B Drew Ellis, C Daulton Varsho, OF Anfernee Grier
Notes: A bit of a tough organization, with two big contracts (Zack Greinke and Yasmany Tomas) it would probably be fine shedding and zero prospects in the top 100 in baseball. Corbin and Miller get a bit of a longer leash because of potential, leaving pieces like Nick Ahmed and Randall Delgado exposed.
Protected: 1B Freddie Freeman, SS Dansby Swanson, OF Ender Inciarte, RHP Julio Teheran, RHP Mike Foltynewicz, RHP Arodys Vizcaino, LHP Luiz Gohara, INF Ozzie Albies, LHP Kolby Allard, SS Kevin Maitan, RHP Mike Soroka, LHP Sean Newcomb, OF Ronald Acuna, LHP Max Fried, 2B Travis Demeritte
Automatically protected: RHP Kyle Wright, RHP Ian Anderson, OF Drew Waters
Notes: Atlanta lucks out a bit with four top prospects (including two top-5 picks) already being exempt, and is very prospect-heavy, as expected. Matt Kemp’s resurgence and Matt Adams’ success thus far are not significant enough to push them ahead of the prospects John Coppolella has dealt for in the last few years, though Kemp would be an unlikely pick for an expansion team, anyway. Edit: Braves fans on Twitter really wanted Gohara over Hursh, so we switched that.
Protected: 3B Manny Machado, OF Adam Jones, 1B Trey Mancini, 2B Jonathan Schoop, OF Mark Trumbo, LHP Zach Britton, RHP Brad Brach, RHP Dylan Bundy, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP Darren O’Day, OF Joey Rickard, RHP Mychal Givens, C Chance Sisco, RHP Hunter Harvey, SS Ryan Mountcastle
Automatically protected: LHP D.L. Hall, RHP Cody Sedlock, LHP Keegan Akin, OF Austin Hays
Notes: Trumbo and O’Day barely made the cut, but keeping them around makes a lot of sense for the Orioles in their current state. Both contracts aren’t that bad, and having both veterans on a club with a closing window (Machado and Jones are free agents after 2018) is probably the avenue the O’s, who are loyal to their guys, would take. There’s not really a lot of talent in the minors they’d need to protect, anyway. Chris Davis’ regression and monster deal means he goes unprotected.
Protected: OF Mookie Betts, OF Andrew Benintendi, OF Jackie Bradley Jr., SS Xander Bogaerts, 2B Dustin Pedroia, LHP Chris Sale, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, RHP Rick Porcello, LHP Drew Pomeranz, RHP Craig Kimbrel, 3B Rafael Devers, C Christian Vazquez, RHP Joe Kelly, 1B Sam Travis, 1B/DH Hanley Ramirez
Automatically protected: LHP Jay Groome, 3B Bobby Dalbec, RHP Tanner Houck, SS C.J. Chatham
Notes: Ramirez gets protected just because the Red Sox’s time to win is now, and there aren’t a ton of prospects that were left unprotected. Brian Johnson and Matt Barnes almost made the cut, though an expansion team would be unlikely to claim David Price and a change of scenery may be the best thing for him anyway.
Protected: 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 2B Addison Russell, LHP Jon Lester, RHP Carl Edwards Jr., RHP Kyle Hendricks, LHP Mike Montgomery, OF Kyle Schwarber, INF Javier Baez, OF Albert Almora, C Willson Contreras, OF Ian Happ, OF Eloy Jimenez, RHP Dylan Cease, C/1B Victor Caratini
Automatically protected: LHP Brendon Little, RHP Alex Lange
Notes: The Cubs had a lot of obvious picks, headlined of course by the Bryzzo duo. Things got a little trickier down the stretch, as it made more sense to protect younger players than vets Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward. An expansion team would be unlikely to take on Heyward’s contract in this scenario, making him a good choice to stay unprotected.
Protected: LHP Jose Quintana, LHP Carlos Rodon, 1B Jose Abreu, OF Avisail Garcia, SS Tim Anderson, RHP Tyler Danish, RHP Nate Jones, 3B Matt Davidson, 2B Yoan Moncada, RHP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Robert, RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Reynaldo Lopez, RHP Carson Fulmer, OF Luis Alexander Basabe
Automatically protected: C Zack Collins, 3B Jake Burger, RHP Zack Burdi, RHP Alec Hansen, RHP Dane Dunning
Notes: The ChiSox are actually one of the toughest teams to do this for, as they have tons of controllable talent in their system and would likely want to protect about 25 guys. They’re helped out a little bit by the exemptions but still likely wouldn’t have room for Yolmer Sanchez, Leury Garcia or Zach Putnam, who have been big-league contributors. They wouldn’t let any recent trade acquisitions go unprotected.
Protected: 1B Joey Votto, OF Adam Duvall, OF Scott Schebler, OF Billy Hamilton, 3B Eugenio Suarez, 2B Jose Peraza, LHP Brandon Finnegan, LHP Amir Garrett, RHP Raisel Iglesias, RHP Michael Lorenzen, RHP Anthony DeSclafani, OF Jesse Winker, LHP Cody Reed, RHP Robert Stephenson, RHP Luis Castillo
Automatically protected: SS/RHP Hunter Greene, 3B Nick Senzel, OF Taylor Trammell, SS Jeter Downs
Notes: Cincinnati’s protected list benefits from having two of its high-end prospects (Greene and Senzel) exempt, letting high-upside guys like Stephenson and Luis Castillo make the cut. Rookie Davis, Homer Bailey, and Tucker Barnhart fell short of the prospect-heavy list of 15.
Protected: SS Francisco Lindor, 2B Jason Kipnis, 3B Jose Ramirez, OF Bradley Zimmer, OF Michael Brantley, DH Edwin Encarnacion, RHP Corey Kluber, RHP Carlos Carrasco, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Cody Allen, RHP Trevor Bauer, C Francisco Mejia, RHP Triston McKenzie, 1B Bobby Bradley, OF Greg Allen
Automatically protected: 3B Nolan Jones, OF Will Benson
Notes: Encarnacion’s big contract was the toughest call here, though Cleveland did guarantee him $60 million knowing its window is open for the next couple of years. Danny Salazar and Lonnie Chisenhall, who are both under club control, were tough cuts in a talented organization.
Protected: 3B Nolan Arenado, OF Charlie Blackmon, 2B D.J. LeMahieu, SS Trevor Story, RHP Jeff Hoffman, LHP Kyle Freeland, OF David Dahl, RHP Jonathan Gray, RHP Tyler Anderson, RHP German Marquez, C Tom Murphy, SS Brendan Rodgers, OF Raimel Tapia, 3B Ryan McMahon, RHP Ryan Castellani
Automatically protected: RHP Riley Pint, 3B Ryan Vilade
Notes: The Rockies have a ton of major league talent under control and a few top prospects, meaning there were some tough decisions at the back end of their list. It makes sense that a team that plays in Coors Field would value controllable, young pitching, so we stocked it with arms instead of other options such as Ian Desmond and his significant contract, which would probably not be taken anyway.
Protected: 1B Miguel Cabrera, RHP Justin Verlander, 2B Ian Kinsler, LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Michael Fulmer, LHP Daniel Norris, RHP Shane Greene, LHP Matthew Boyd, 3B Nick Castellanos, RHP Alex Wilson, OF JaCoby Jones, OF Christin Stewart, RHP Joe Jimenez, RHP Beau Burrows, OF Michael Gerber
Automatically protected: RHP Alex Faedo, RHP Matt Manning, RHP Kyle Funkhouser
Notes: Detroit is in the wonderful spot of having a subpar major league team and weak farm system. That’ll likely change at the trade deadline, but we’re acting like that’s not happening so all of the likely trade chips (Verlander, Kinsler, Wilson, etc.) should be protected. Some prospects made the cut over major leaguers like Jose Iglesias, Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann, with the latter two having huge contracts that the Tigers would likely love to get rid of.
Protected: OF George Springer, SS Carlos Correa, 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Alex Bregman, 1B Yulieski Gurriel, LHP Dallas Keuchel, RHP Lance McCullers, RHP Mike Fiers, RHP Ken Giles, RHP Will Harris, RHP Chris Devenski, RHP Francis Martes, OF Kyle Tucker, OF Derek Fisher, RHP Franklin Perez
Automatically protected: RHP Forrest Whitley, RHP J.B. Bukauskas
Notes: There’s so much talent throughout this organization that the last few picks were some of the toughest of this entire exercise. Obviously, Houston’s window is open now, so it makes sense to protect some successful major league pieces (Giles, Harris, Fiers) over projectable talents like David Paulino and A.J. Reed. Collin McHugh and Joe Musgrove also came under consideration.
Protected: C Salvador Perez, 2B Whit Merrifield, LHP Danny Duffy, RHP Kelvin Herrera, RHP Matt Strahm, RHP Nathan Karns, OF Jorge Soler, 3B/OF Hunter Dozier, RHP Jake Junis, LHP Foster Griffin, C Chase Vallot, RHP Josh Staumont, 1B Ryan O’Hearn, SS Raul Mondesi, OF Jorge Bonifacio
Automatically protected: OF Nick Pratto, C M.J. Melendez, RHP A.J. Puckett
Notes: With so many veterans set to depart in free agency this winter and a shallow farm system, the Royals would have to dig deep to find 15 solid options to protect. Alex Gordon, Paulo Orlando, Eric Skoglund and Joakim Soria among the cuts.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
Protected: OF Mike Trout, OF Kole Calhoun, SS Andrelton Simmons, RHP Alex Meyer, LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Matt Shoemaker, LHP Tyler Skaggs, RHP Nick Tropeano, RHP Garrett Richards, RHP Cam Bedrosian, RHP Keynan Middleton, 1B C.J. Cron, OF Jahmai Jones, RHP Chris Rodriguez, RHP Jaime Barria
Automatically protected: OF Jordon Adell, 1B Matt Thaiss, OF Brandon Marsh, RHP Griffin Canning
Notes: I wish I could’ve just protected Trout 15 times. Lots of injured starters in here, but they’re some of the guys with the most potential long-term value. With almost all of the top prospects already exempt, an extremely hard list to fill out (see Cron, C.J.). No expansion team is taking Pujols...
Protected: LHP Clayton Kershaw, SS Corey Seager, OF Cody Bellinger, 3B Justin Turner, RHP Kenley Jansen, LHP Alex Wood, LHP Julio Urias, OF Joc Pederson, OF Chris Taylor, RHP Yadier Alvarez, OF Alex Verdugo, 2B Willie Calhoun, RHP Walker Buehler, RHP Brock Stewart, C Austin Barnes
Automatically protected: SS Gavin Lux, OF Jeren Kendall, RHP Mitchell White, RHP Jordan Sheffield
Notes: There were a ton of great options for the Dodgers to protect, which is a great problem to have. Besides the obvious plays, Pederson and Taylor made it based on control and potential. Toughest cuts: Yusniel Diaz and Kenta Maeda.
Protected: OF Christian Yelich, OF Marcell Ozuna, 1B Justin Bour, C J.T. Realmuto, 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Dan Straily, RHP Jose Urena, RHP Kyle Barraclough, RHP Tyler Kolek, INF J.T. Riddle, RHP A.J. Ramos, LHP Adam Conley, INF Miguel Rojas, RHP Nick Wittgren, 3B Brian Anderson
Automatically protected: LHP Trevor Rogers, OF Brian Miller, LHP Braxton Garrett
Notes: An expansion team wouldn’t be likely to claim Giancarlo Stanton’s mega-deal, so he’s left off. The rest is the too-heavy collection of controllable talent Miami has due to a weak farm system. Even more reason for the Marlins to look to move Ozuna, Yelich, Ramos and others this summer (in real life).
Protected: 3B Travis Shaw, 1B Eric Thames, RHP Corey Knebel, OF Domingo Santana, SS Orlando Arcia, RHP Jimmy Nelson, RHP Chase Anderson, RHP Junior Guerra, RHP Zach Davies, INF Jonathan Villar, OF Lewis Brinson, LHP Josh Hader, RHP Luis Ortiz, SS Isan Diaz, RHP Brandon Woodruff
Automatically protected: OF Corey Ray, OF/2B Keston Hiura, OF Tristen Lutz, RHP Lucas Erceg
Notes: Ryan Braun’s mega-deal (and regression so far this season) would cause him to go unprotected. It was hard to keep all four major league starters, though they’re all controllable and have shown upside. Very difficult group overall, weighing prospects against guys with about a year of service time. Jacob Barnes, Trent Clark, and Hernan Perez didn’t make it.
Protected: 2B Brian Dozier, 3B Miguel Sano, RHP Jose Berrios, RHP Ervin Santana, OF Byron Buxton, OF Max Kepler, OF Eddie Rosario, SS Jorge Polanco, SS Nick Gordon, LHP Stephen Gonsalves, RHP Fernando Romero, LHP Adalberto Mejia, RHP Kohl Stewart, LHP Tyler Jay, RHP Felix Jorge
Automatically protected: SS Royce Lewis, OF Alex Kirilloff, 1B Brent Rooker, RHP Blayne Enlow
Notes: A really solid list for Minnesota, aided by two top picks being automatically exempt. Not yet ready to give up on the two first-round pitchers (Stewart and Jay), which made for some tough unprotected guys (Tyler Duffey, Zack Granite, J.T. Chargois, Trevor May).
Protected: OF Michael Conforto, OF Yoenis Cespedes, RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Noah Syndergaard, RHP Zack Wheeler, LHP Steven Matz, RHP Jeurys Familia, C Travis d’Arnaud, INF Wilmer Flores, RHP Matt Harvey, OF Juan Lagares, RHP Seth Lugo, SS Amed Rosario, 1B Dominic Smith, SS Luis Guillorme
Automatically protected: RHP Justin Dunn, LHP David Peterson, INF Mark Vientos
Notes: This one was the hardest no matter what because of the reaction from a very angry #MetsTwitter. Harvey gets one last shot in my book. Too many other candidates underperforming this year (Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Desmond Lindsay, Robert Gsellman)
Protected: OF Aaron Judge, C Gary Sanchez, OF Brett Gardner, RHP Luis Severino, RHP Dellin Betances, SS Didi Gregorius, 2B Starlin Castro, SS Gleyber Torres, OF Clint Frazier, RHP Chance Adams, LHP Justus Sheffield, LHP Jordan Montgomery, INF Jorge Mateo, RHP James Kaprielian, 1B Greg Bird
Automatically protected: OF Blake Rutherford, RHP Clarke Schmidt
Notes: Doing this makes you realize how ludicrously talented the Yankees organization is. Luis Cessa, Tyler Austin, Aaron Hicks and high-priced guys like Aroldis Chapman and Jacoby Ellsbury on the outside looking in. Edit: Austin made the original cut, but Montgomery should’ve been there.
Protected: RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Khris Davis, 3B Ryon Healy, SS Franklin Barreto, LHP Sean Manaea, RHP Jharel Cotton, SS Marcus Semien, RHP Kendall Graveman, RHP Grant Holmes, 3B Matt Chapman, OF Matt Olson, RHP Daniel Gossett, OF Lazaro Armenteros, RHP Frankie Montas, INF Yairo Munoz
Automatically protected: LHP A.J. Puk, OF Austin Beck, SS Kevin Merrell, RHP Daulton Jefferies, RHP Logan Shore
Notes: Tons of young talent here, making things hard. Jed Lowrie, Bruce Maxwell, Ryan Dull and Chad Pinder just missed it.
Protected: OF Odubel Herrera, 3B Maikel Franco, OF Aaron Altherr, 2B Cesar Hernandez, RHP Vincent Velasquez, RHP Aaron Nola, RHP Jerad Eickhoff, SS J.P. Crawford, C Jorge Alfaro, OF Nick Williams, RHP Franklyn Kilome, RHP Sixto Sanchez, 2B Scott Kingery, OF Dylan Cozens, 1B Rhys Hoskins
Automatically protected: OF Mickey Moniak, OF Adam Haseley, RHP Kevin Gowdy
Notes: A prospect-heavy protection list for Philadelphia, which isn’t surprising. Even the struggling major leaguers get a long leash here.
Protected: 2B Josh Harrison, 1B Josh Bell, OF Andrew McCutchen, OF Starling Marte, OF Gregory Polanco, RHP Gerrit Cole, RHP Jameson Taillon, LHP Felipe Rivero, RHP Ivan Nova, OF Austin Meadows, RHP Mitch Keller, 2B Kevin Newman, RHP Tyler Glasnow, LHP Steven Brault, OF Adam Frazier
Automatically protected: RHP Shane Baz, RHP Steven Jennings, 1B Will Craig
Notes: The Pirates have a nice mix of major league talent and prospects, so 15 was just about the right number for them. McCutchen and Cole are trade bait, of course.
Protected: 1B Wil Myers, INF Yangervis Solarte, LHP Brad Hand, OF Manuel Margot, OF Hunter Renfroe, OF Cory Spangenberg, RHP Anderson Espinoza, LHP Adrian Morejon, RHP Jacob Nix, SS Fernando Tatis Jr., OF Jorge Ona, LHP Logan Allen, INF Luis Urias, 1B Josh Naylor, C Austin Hedges
Automatically protected: LHP MacKenzie Gore, C Luis Campusano-Bracero, RHP Cal Quantrill, LHP Eric Lauer
Notes: Would be some tough choices for a rebuilding club, mixing major league guys with trade value and prospects. In the end, an interesting balance of both. Carlos Asuaje, Ryan Schimpf, and Travis Jankowski on the outside looking in.
Protected: C Buster Posey, LHP Madison Bumgarner, 2B Joe Panik, 1B Brandon Belt, SS Brandon Crawford, LHP Matt Moore, LHP Ty Blach, RHP Hunter Strickland, OF Austin Slater, RHP Jeff Samardzija, RHP Tyler Beede, SS Christian Arroyo, 1B Chris Shaw, RHP Joan Gregorio, LHP Andrew Suarez
Automatically protected: OF Heliot Ramos, OF Bryan Reynolds, OF Heath Quinn
Notes: The Giants’ struggles this year have shocked everyone, but they still do have a lot of controllable talent on the roster that will either benefit them on the field or in trades. Samardzija and Strickland were especially tough calls. We’re counting Johnny Cueto as a free agent, though he could opt in and remain with the Giants.
Protected: 3B Kyle Seager, SS Jean Segura, RHP Edwin Diaz, OF/DH Nelson Cruz, OF Mitch Haniger, OF Ben Gamel, LHP James Paxton, C Mike Zunino, LHP Ariel Miranda, 1B/DH Dan Vogelbach, OF Tyler O’Neill, RHP Nick Neidert, RHP Andrew Moore, RHP Max Povse, OF Guillermo Heredia
Automatically protected: OF Kyle Lewis, 1B Evan White, RHP Sam Carlson
Notes: Some obvious picks for Seattle, some not so obvious. It’s extremely unlikely anyone would take on the contracts of Robinson Cano or Felix Hernandez, so they’re unprotected. Cruz was a tough call, but he ultimately made the cut for an injury-destroyed team that could contend in 2018. Edit: Drew Smyly originally made the cut, but Guillermo Heredia replaced him after the announcement of his Tommy John surgery.
Protected: RHP Carlos Martinez, 1B Matt Carpenter, OF Stephen Piscotty, C Yadier Molina, RHP Mike Leake, 2B Kolten Wong, OF Dexter Fowler, SS Aledmys Diaz, 2B Jedd Gyorko, RHP Alex Reyes, C Carson Kelly, RHP Luke Weaver, RHP Jack Flaherty, OF Magneuris Sierra, RHP Sandy Alcantara
Automatically protected: SS Delvin Perez
Notes: Leake’s big deal was tough to keep around, but leaving Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha unprotected created a bigger need for proven major league pitching alongside Martinez. Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham, Marco Gonzalez and Harrison Bader were some tough cuts; Trevor Rosenthal’s free agency after 2018 made him vulnerable.
Tampa Bay Rays:
Protected: RHP Chris Archer, 3B Evan Longoria, OF Kevin Kiermaier, OF/DH Corey Dickerson, RHP Alex Colome, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Blake Snell, SS Willy Adames, RHP Brent Honeywell, RHP Jose De Leon, OF/1B Jake Bauers, 1B Casey Gillaspie, OF Mallex Smith, INF Matt Duffy, RHP Jacob Faria
Automatically protected: LHP/1B Brendan McKay, RHP Drew Rasmussen, 3B Josh Lowe, RHP Michael Mercado
Notes: Tampa is top-heavy on prospects and has a nice mix of current veterans under control for a while as well. Duffy (controlled through 2020) and Smith (through 2021) were big pieces of recent pitching trades, leading to them being protected over Wilson Ramos, Steven Souza, Matt Andriese or Brad Miller. Some really tough cuts at the end.
Protected: OF Nomar Mazara, 2B Rougned Odor, 1B Joey Gallo, LHP Cole Hamels, LHP Martin Perez, SS Elvis Andrus, 3B Adrian Beltre, RHP Matt Bush, RHP Keone Kela, OF Delino DeShields, OF Leody Taveras, 1B Ronald Guzman, RHP Ariel Jurado, LHP Brett Martin, LHP Yohander Méndez
Automatically protected: LHP Cole Ragans, OF Bubba Thompson, SS Christopher Seise
Notes: Hamels is too good to risk letting go, big deal and all. Andrus will probably opt out after 2018, so he’s protected too. Not a lot of prospect meat here, but Jurickson Profar and Shin-soo Choo still didn’t make the cut.
Protected: OF Kevin Pillar, 3B Josh Donaldson, RHP Marcus Stroman, RHP Roberto Osuna, RHP Joe Biagini, 2B Devon Travis, RHP Aaron Sanchez, RHP Ryan Tepera, 1B Justin Smoak, OF Dalton Pompey, 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., RHP Sean Reid-Foley, OF Anthony Alford, SS Richard Urena, RHP Conner Greene
Automatically protected: INF Bo Bichette, RHP T.J. Zeuch, SS Logan Warmoth, RHP Nate Pearson, C Hagen Danner
Notes: Toronto has a few contracts it’d be fine ridding itself of, leaving Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin unprotected. Controllable studs and high-level prospects are key for the Blue Jays moving forward.
Protected: OF Bryce Harper, SS Trea Turner, 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B Anthony Rendon, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Stephen Strasburg, OF Adam Eaton, LHP Gio Gonzalez, OF Michael A. Taylor, RHP Joe Ross, RHP Tanner Roark, OF Victor Robles, RHP Erick Fedde, OF Juan Soto
Automatically protected: SS Carter Kieboom, 3B Sheldon Neuse
Notes: Protecting Gonzalez (we’re assuming his option vests at 180 innings) is unorthodox for sure, but we’re figuring the Nats will want as much major league talent as possible in what is likely Bryce Harper’s final year in D.C. Scherzer and Strasburg have big contracts but are worth protecting due to performance. It’s all-in for the Nats.