20th anniversary: NL expansion draft

Twenty years ago today, Major League Baseball had its expansion draft for its two newest franchises, the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies had first pick and spent it on the creature least likely to succeed in Denver, a pitcher. David Nied became the answer to a trivia question when he became the first player selected in the expansion draft. He spent a few years with the team but never had too much success.

That set a tone for the early Rockies picks. They weren’t all terrible picks, and they found some useful players, but there was no one taken in those first rounds to really build a team around. Their fifth pick, left fielder Kevin Reimer, never even played for them—or for any team ever again—after Colorado picked him.

A lot of Colorado’s most high-profile players were people past their prime, like Cubs catcher Joe Girardi. Many of those taken were hurt by injuries, such as Reimer, or pitcher Andy Ashby, who had been and would again be a good starting pitcher, but in 1993 managed just nine starts in his only year in Colorado.

The Rockies made some nice picks. Early on they landed second baseman Eric Young. A Dodger rookie in 1992, Young had his first full season as a Rockie in 1993 and played for 15 years for various major league teams.

The draftee who had the most celebrated tenure with the Rockies was infielder Vinny Castilla. Taken from the Braves, Castilla took to the thin Denver air, and from 1995 to 1999 he averaged a little under 40 homers per season.

Colorado also picked a minor league catcher named Brad Ausmus. He never made it to their major league club; they didn’t need him with Girardi. The Rockies traded him to San Diego (with Ashby) in mid-1993. Ausmus would play around the league until 2010.

Oh, they also picked future manage Eric Wedge.

In all, it wasn’t a terrible haul, but you can see why expansion teams like the Rockies often have lousy starts to their existence.

The Marlins did a better job identifying future stars with their drafting, but they didn’t always get the star years from their players. Their fourth player taken was Reds minor league reliever Trevor Hoffman. He had a better career than anyone the Rockies took, but he had it with San Diego, as Florida would trade him there.

The Marlins also landed Jeff Conine, and he did become a fixture for their franchise. They also took Carl Everett and David Weathers, two players who would have decent careers for themselves—just not with Florida.

One neat wrinkle the Marlins had in their strategy was to land big-name veterans and then immediately trade them. Florida took pitchers Danny Jackson and Greg Hibbard in the draft, but by the end of the day those players had been dealt to other teams for prospects not available in the expansion draft. Alas for Florida, those prospects didn’t pan out.

Florida looks like it had a better day, but the Rockies got more out of the expansion draft. Either way, the draft was 20 years ago today, on Nov. 17, 1992.

Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-verrsary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.


3,000 days since Omar Vizquel gets six hits in one game.

4,000 days since New York City mayor Rudolph Guliani announces he wants to complete stadium deals for the Mets and Yankees before leaving office.

6,000 days since Jeff Bagwell gets four doubles in one game, twice as many as he has in any other contest.

6,000 days since Cal Ripken plays in his 2,216th consecutive game, breaking the record held by Japanese iron man Sachio Kinsugasa.

6,000 days since Darin Erstad makes his major league debut.

7,000 days since the Yankees win one in weird fashion over the Red Sox. Boston is up 3-1 in the ninth when a pop up appears to end it for the Boston victory. However, there was a fan on the field, so the last Yankee batter gets a second chance. He singles, and then a single, walk, and another single give New York the 4-3 triumph.

7,000 days since Cliff Floyd makes his big league debut.

8,000 days since the White Sox and Expos make a five-player trade that sends Tim Raines to Chicago and Ivan Calderon to Montreal.

9,000 days since the A’s release Mickey Tettleton.

9,000 days since Gene Mauch, who took a leave of absence as Angels manager just before the 1988 season began, retires outright due to health reasons.

10,000 days since Joe Niekro wins his 200th game. His record is 200-174.

10,000 days since Paul Molitor gets his 1,000th hit. He’s a third of the way to Cooperstown.


1892 The National League agrees to shorten its schedule from 154 to 132 games.

1913 The Dodgers hire Wilbert Robinson as their manager. He’ll last nearly 20 years on the job.

1923 Mike Garcia, pitcher, is born.

1924 The A’s trade five players and send $50,000 to the Pacific Coast League’s Portland club for star catcher Mickey Cochrane. This is a great move for the A’s.

1936 Gary Bell, pitcher, is born.

1944 Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver is born.

1947 The Browns trade Vern Stephens and a second player to the Red Sox for $310,000 and a half-dozen warm bodies.

1949 The Cubs draft Johnny Klippstein from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft.

1953 The St. Louis Browns officially become the Baltimore Orioles.

1954 The Yankees and Orioles initiate a trade that will move 17 players between the two organizations. When it’s all done on Dec. 1, Don Larsen and Bob Turley are Yankees while Gene Woodling, Harry Byrd, and Gus Triandos are Orioles.

1958 Mort Cooper, star 1940s pitcher, dies at the too-young age of 45.

1960 The American League approves of Gen. Pete Quesada’s bid for the Washington expansion franchise.

1961 Benny Kauff, best hitter in the Federal League, dies at age 71.

1964 Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, reliever, is born.

1964 The Mets sign Yogi Berra as one of their coaches.

1965 MLB owners select as their new commissioner the Unknown Soldier himself, General William D. “Spike” Eckert.

1968 Earl Hamilton, swingman pitcher, dies at age 77.

1975 Atlanta trades Dusty Baker and another player to the Dodgers for Lee Lacy, Jimmy Wynn, Tom Paciorek, and Jerry Royster.

1976 The Braves sign free agent Gary Matthews.

1976 The old Mustache Gang is breaking up, as California signs free agent outfielder Joe Rudi, and Texas signs Oakland’s star shortstop Bert Campaneris.

1976 Montreal signs free agent infielder Dave Cash.

1977 Milwaukee signs free agent Larry Hisle.

1977 Roger Peckinpaugh, former star shortstop and a man who managed in four different decades, dies at age 86.

1979 Rotisserie baseball is born, as Daniel Okrent draws up its first set of rules.

1981 The Yankees trade Aurelio Rodriguez to Toronto.

1983 Ryan Braun, Brewers slugger, is born.

1987 Paul Derringer, 200-game winner, dies at age 81.

1992 The A’s trade Walt Weiss to Florida.

1992 Cincinnati trade Norm Charlton to Seattle for Kevin Mitchell.

1997 Atlanta signs Walt Weiss as a free agent.

1998 Houston signs free agent Ken Caminiti. It’s a return to Houston for Caminiti.

1999 The Angels hire Mike Scioscia as their manager.

2000 Texas trades Aaron Harang to Oakland.

2002 The Phillies sign free agent pitcher Cory Lidle.

2005 The Royals release one-time franchise ace Kevin Appier.

2005 MLB owners vote unanimously to adopt a tougher steroids policy.

2011 The Cubs announce Dale Sveum as their new manager.

2011 MLB announces that 2012 will be Houston’s last year in the National League. They’ll be in the AL in 2013.

2011 MLB announces that they intend to add two more teams to the postseason, ideally in the upcoming season, which, of course, is exactly what happens.

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Johnny P
Johnny P

One thing worth noting about the expansion draft- the Yankees left one of their prospects, who was just finishing up his first season in Single-A and was coming off surgery, unprotected in the draft. Neither the Marlins or Rockies took him.

The player? Mariano Rivera.