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17 years ago, the Rays and D-backs selected Bobby Abreu and others in the Expansion Draft

November 18, 1997 was a monumental day in the history Major League Baseball. The 1997 MLB Expansion Draft featured executives from the newly founded Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks carefully selecting players from other MLB teams to fill out their rosters.

The draft was held in Phoenix less than a month after the Florida Marlins had defied odds to win their first World Series only five years removed from their own Expansion Draft.

In '97, the Rays selected left-handed pitcher Tony Saunders from the Marlins with the first pick in the draft and the D-backs followed by selecting pitchers Brian Anderson and Jeff Suppan of the Indians and Red Sox, respectively. 

Bobby Abreu, drafted sixth overall from the Astros, was arguably the best player selected that day. The Rays immediately swapped him for Phillies shortstop Kevin Stocker. As a member of the 2014 Mets, Abreu was MLB's active career leader in doubles, walks and outfield assists. 

While the initial D-backs roster left much to be desired, they went out and signed a guy named Randy Johnson to a five-year deal the following offseason and included Expansion Draft pitcher Omar Daal as a major part of a trade with Philadelphia that brought Curt Schilling to the desert.

Less than four years after the 1997 Expansion Draft, the Diamondbacks upset the defending champion Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series.

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