As regular readers know, there has been an ongoing discussion among several members of Tout Wars over the practice of Free Agent Allocation Budget (FAAB) trading.
Several recent episodes highlighting the differences in opinion about dealing FAAB arose in conjunction with Major League Baseballâs July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. My purpose here is not to rehash those situations, as what is done is done.
Instead, I am interested in readersâ views as to what should be done going forward. I will point out that this is more for discussion purposes and should not be considered binding. After all, Tout Wars is not a democracy.
For reference, here is the related wording in the league constitution as written today.
âAny player may be traded to another teamâs active roster or reserve list. Teams may also trade any number of FAAB units up to a maximum of the amount remaining in their FAAB budget. FAAB units traded must be in full unit increments. Traded FAAB may not be spent on claims until the period following the period of the trade.â
As you can see, the rules are quite clear about how much FAAB can be traded.
Yet, in an article at USAToday.com, Steve Gardner unearths the fact that the ruleâs intent was more limited in nature, at least from one important perspective.
The idea behind it, as Tout Wars founder Ron Shandler says, is to be a âsweetenerâ for deals - generally only a few dollars. âSometimes when you can't make a trade work, tossing in some FAAB helps find a better balance,â Shandler told Gardner.
So, is the problem that the constitution is worded too liberally or that different league members are reading between the lines differently?
Some members have been active in trading FAAB while others who object to the practice, either totally or depending on the situation, have not joined in.
Should the wording of the rules be changed to limit the amount of FAAB allowed in any given transaction? If so, who would decide a âfairâ sweetener amount? If $5 is fair, why not $6, and so on?
Another alternative offered by Peter Kreutzer, aka âAsk Rotoman,â is to set an earlier deadline for FAAB trading. He believes that FAAB essentially loses its value after July 31 and observes that trading activity is most intense leading up to that date.
To that end, Rotoman suggests the addition of a second trade deadline - an earlier FAAB-only trade moratorium - be established at the All-Star break. As a point of reference, player trades can occur âuntil August 31,â (though the league interprets that to mean âthroughâ August 31).
I canât help but wonder if Kreutzerâs proposal wouldnât just pull forward by a couple of weeks the acquisition of FAAB by teams positioning themselves for the MLB trade deadline - rather than eliminate it.
Back to the earlier point of the wording of the constitution. The current rules place no restrictions on FAAB trading other than the aforementioned date. What about the other end of the spectrum â to ban the practice completely?
One thing this would accomplish is to remove the gray area in the interpretations being made by different league participants.
On the other hand, it smacks of taking the easy way out, of throwing the baby out with the bath water. In my view it is better to try to fix what may ail the process rather than abandoning it altogether.
I have always been a firm believer that in every league - from Tout to the most-friendly local competition - that the leagueâs constitution should reflect exactly what is intended and if not, then it should be changed. Remove the redundancy.
One point related to FAAB that was not mentioned by others is another regulator coming into play starting next season. As a motivation for teams to compete to the bitter end and fight for every point, the following rule is going into effect.
From the constitution:
âTotal FAAB allocation is subject to adjustment based on a playerâs finish the year before. The following year, teams will have deducted one FAAB-dollar for each point (rounded down) that they finish below league-specific thresholds. The thresholds are 60 points for AL, 65 points for NL and 75 points for Mixed. For instance, a Tout NL team that finished with 52 points would start the following year with 87 FAAB dollars, rather than 100.â
As of this moment, over half the 13 NL Tout teams â seven - would begin 2012 with less than their usual $100 stipend. With less overall money to spend across the league, would that increase, decrease or have no impact on FAAB trading?
When all is said and done, a decision of some type is needed.
What do you think? Would you change the rules? If so, how? Would you alter the shading, ban FAAB dealing completely, or leave things alone and let the market continue to take its current, albeit winding course?
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the leagueâs 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.