2018 will mark the year Vladimir Guerrero will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. If he is smart, he will choose to wear a Montreal Expos cap on his plaque (yes, there are reasons why Anaheim would also be an option, but still). However, with Tim Raines going in this year with an Expos cap and Guerrero next year, it is clear that the experience of the Montreal Expos is about to end.
Let us start with the fact that there is only one active player left who played for the Expos. For 2015, it had been down to Maicer Izturis and Bartolo Colon, but in 2016, Izturis announced his retirement. Now the ageless wonder Colon is the only player left in all of baseball who pitched for the Expos. Colon is 43. He is 11 wins short of passing Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for the most wins by a pitcher born in the Dominican Republic. His choice of signing with the Atlanta Braves will make it really hard to reach that record. However, if he is flipped at the deadline, you never know. You figure at some point, Colon will retire. If he passes Marichal, the end of the 2017 season makes sense. Once that happens, there will be nobody left.
There are not many players left who were drafted by the Expos either. By not many, the number is exactly three. The first, and the one who will last the longest, is Ian Desmond, who was drafted by the Expos in the 2004 amateur draft. Ian Desmond just signed to an albatross of a contract (in retrospect) to play first base for the Colorado Rockies. 5 years and $70MM will keep him the only one by 2022 to still be an Expos draftee.
The second player is the current Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Drafted by the Expos in 1999 and traded with Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore to the Cleveland Indians for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew. Unlike Desmond, it is pretty likely Phillips will be out of the league in the next five years in retirement. The final player, whose career end is probably near, is Jim Henderson, drafted in the 2003 season. The 2016 season was already a comeback for Henderson, who will probably be out of the league in the next two years. This is all speculation, but the fact is, other than the fact they will be tangentially related to the Montreal Expos in terms of being drafted. That is it. There is another reason why, though.
The Washington Nationals have had no trouble pretending that the Montreal Expos never existed. This despite the fact that they are the former franchise. The Nationals unretired every single number that the Expos had retired (8, 10 and 30). Then, they re-distributed them to players for the Nationals. Being a brand new franchise, the Nationals did not even bother to put a retired number section in Nationals Park with Expos logos instead of numbers so that Gary Carter, Rusty Staub, Tim Raines and Andre Dawson are given their due respect. At least other teams will respect their past with other cities, such as the Giants who have NY for Christy Mathewson and John McGraw. The Nationals have nothing.
The Nationals do not want to admit they were the Expos and that the last 12 seasons have been only as the Washington Nationals. As a historian, this idea is patently absurd. The team should be proud of their Montreal Expos history as much as being a Washington National. There is no reason that the Expos history should be left behind in Montreal, where there is very little to remind people of that, other than the Canadiens having Youppi! and the dying Olympic Stadium in downtown. There has been demand for an expansion team in Montreal. Another option is moving one of the South Florida teams to the city. There does not seem to be demand in the city for a new stadium, though. I doubt MLB would use Olympic Stadium for more than a couple seasons.
It seems for the known future that the history of the Montreal Expos will be over. We see that in NFL right now with the Chargers, Raiders and Rams. It is unfortunate, but that is how it goes in sports sometimes.