Established in 1969, the Expos remained in Montreal until 2004, when their dwindling fan base necessitated a move to Washington. In more than three decades of play, the club managed just one postseason appearance. This is difficult to believe considering the number of exceptional players who passed through that region of Quebec over the years. As a small market team, the Expos had a knack for being unable to meet the salary demands of their brightest stars. Consequently, they kept the rest of the majors well-stocked with marquis players. Below is a sampling of the superstars who were let go by the Expos.
Originally property of the Astros, Staub was acquired before the Expos inaugural campaign. He had three productive seasons in Montreal, averaging 60 extra-base hits and 90 RBIs per year. In '72, the Expos decided to test the market. They ended up getting three players for Staub in a trade with the Mets. Staub had several fruitful seasons elsewhere, retiring with more than 2,700 hits and 1,400 runs batted in.
A first round draft pick in 1967, Singleton came up through the Mets organization. After two mediocre seasons, he was traded to Montreal. He began to blossom with the Expos, driving in 103 runs in '73 while leading the National League with a .425 on-base percentage. Dealt to Baltimore before the '75 campaign, Singleton became one of Baltimore's most reliable RBI-men. Between '77 and '80, he hit .305 and averaged 99 ribbies per season. He finished second in MVP voting during the '79 slate, guiding the Orioles to a World Series appearance. He gathered 16 hits in 11 postseason games that year.
Carter was drafted by the Expos in '72. He spent eleven seasons with the club, earning seven All-Star selections, three Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger Awards. When the Expos failed to meet his salary demands before the '85 campaign, he defected to the Mets. He ended up with a World Series ring and a plaque in the gallery at Cooperstown.
Rookie of the Year in 1977, Dawson followed with nine successful seasons in Montreal. Cut loose before the '87 campaign, he made the Expos regret it, capturing MVP honors with the Cubs. By the time he retired in '96, he had eight Gold Gloves and eight All-Star selections to his credit. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame (as an Expo) in 2010.
Raines was among the greatest Expo players of all time. During his eleven full seasons in Montreal, he led the league in stolen bases four times and earned seven straight All-Star selections. In 1986, he captured a batting title. The Expos rewarded him by granting him free agency at seasons' end. He had several productive campaigns outside of Quebec, spending the second half of his twenty-two year career with five different clubs. He won a pair of World Series rings with the Yankees.
Signed by the Expos in '79, Galarraga spent portions of seven seasons in Montreal. He led the league in multiple offensive categories and won a pair of Gold Gloves at first base. After a mediocre year in '91, the Expos dumped him. It was a mistake as Galarraga won a batting crown with Colorado in '93 then followed with two straight RBI titles. He drove in more than 100 runs in five straight seasons before age finally caught up with him.
The Expos missed the boat altogether on Randy Johnson. He started just ten games for Montreal before embarking on a Hall of Fame career that included nine strikeout titles and five Cy Young Awards. He currently ranks second to Nolan Ryan on the all time strikeout list.
The Canadian-born Walker is currently the all time leader among fellow countrymen in hits, doubles, homers and RBIs (among other categories). He accomplished a great deal of this outside of Montreal. The Expos let him go before the '95 campaign. His best years were yet to come as he captured MVP honors with Colorado in '97 and won three batting titles in a four-year span. Five of his seven Gold Gloves were earned after he parted ways with the Expos.
Originally property of the Dodgers, the Expos scooped up Martinez before the '94 campaign. They gave his Hall of Fame career a jump start when they rescued him from the bullpen. In Martinez's best season with Montreal, he won 17 games and captured a Cy Young Award. Unable to afford him anymore, the Expos offered him up to the highest bidder. Martinez enjoyed his peak seasons in Boston, posting a 117-37 record over a seven-year span while winning four ERA titles and a pair of Cy Young Awards. In '99, he captured a triple crown.