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Wednesday 28th Jun 2017

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 Baseball’s 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 readers’ 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.

“Any player may be traded to another team’s 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.”

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 rule’s 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 ‘sweetener’ for deals - generally only a few dollars. ‘Sometimes when you can't make a trade work, tossing in some FAAB helps find a better balance,’ 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 “fair” sweetener amount? If $5 is fair, why not $6, and so on?

Another alternative offered by Peter Kreutzer, aka “Ask Rotoman,” 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 “until August 31,” (though the league interprets that to mean “through” August 31).

I can’t help but wonder if Kreutzer’s proposal wouldn’t 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 – 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 league’s 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:

“Total FAAB allocation is subject to adjustment based on a player’s 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.”

As of this moment, over half the 13 NL Tout teams – 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 league’s 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.

 

Comments   

0 #6 Todd Zola 2011-08-28 02:35
We've gone sort of tangential here and I did my comment disservice the way I introduced it, it should have been more anecdotal.

I have been involved in deals where those assumptions are made and used in negotiations - but yeah, it is still 'expectation'. Some years it is easier to gauge the likelihood of the expectation than others.

In the Smith plus FAAB for Jones example, opponents have asked for a "better player than Jones" because they try to sell the fact that Player X will be so-and-so or his equivalent. This year, not so much as the expectation at the deadline was all over the place. Other years, it was not a matter of who, but when the player would be crossing over.

In a way though, this fees into why I do not really like trading FAAB. In one deal of this sort, $8 FAAB may allow the owner receiving the FAAB to get a better player than without the FAAB, let's call it "10 units of production" better. The same $8 FAAB to another owner may not change his positioning at all or maybe improve it so the better player gets him 5 units or production. Or another way of saying it, in order for the second owner to be able to get that extra 10 units of production, he may need $21 FAAB.

In either case, there is an inequity in the "value" of a FAAB unit. But I guess that is what FAAB is all about. One week, $20 gets you 10 units of production, someone else bids $20 and gets 5 (or 15 units)

The next week, you bid the same 20$ FAAB and get 5 (or 15) units of production.

There is an inequity here too, but I still don't like the idea of trading FAAB :lol:
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0 #5 John Verdello 2011-08-28 01:58
No ....the deal isn't really that ... it's the expectation of you getting X player - getting the units is not always tantamount to getting X player.

The assumption here is also that there is a target in mind when the deal is consummated - again - not necessarily the case. Cause and effect doesn't always apply here. I see FAAB being used as contingency planning in some cases in a passive, not active mode. Don't care much for that thought.
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0 #4 Todd Zola 2011-08-27 20:33
In the situations I am talking about, it is pretty clear what player, or maybe two players the leader in FAAB will target. That said, maybe it is not necessarily a good thing as suggested, more just an artifact.

For example, it is pretty obvious I will not get Kelly Johnson. If a similar trade was made before the MLB deadline, it would have been obvious the targets were Rasmus or Jimenez.

And actually, as I am writing this, I realize it isn't even the case because traded FAAB is not available until the FOLLOWING period, so that everyone knows how much is in everyone's kitty and there are no last second, covert deals.

Now with THAT said, I can say that some negotiations indeed at least estimate the quality of player coming over and Brian wrote about that.

I trade you Smith and $36 FAAB for Jones and the deal is really Smith for Jones and INSERT NAME OF PLAYER LIKELY TO BE AVAILABLE HERE. This definitely takes place.
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0 #3 John Verdello 2011-08-27 19:00
I would take disagreement with that, Todd. I don;t think you can valuate FAAB to a specific player - I think one valuates to a specific need and finds the best available player to meet that need. The valuation of the player gets knocked into a cocked hat when more than one team has a need that the player will supposedly meet.
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0 #2 Todd Zola 2011-08-27 16:10
At least in Tout Wars, one repercussion has been dealing ample FAAB to put one owner ahead of another, often giving them the most. Brian discussed this in a couple of previous columns.

One positive about this is it actually gives a tangible means of valuing the FAAB as you can equate the FAAB to a specific player.

I have always been against trading it, but rules is rules and last week I made a Tout deal giving me the most FAAB in the AL so now Kelly Johnson will be the driving force behind my ascent to 4th place!!!!!!!
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0 #1 John Verdello 2011-08-27 15:55
I have always been suspect of trading FAAB units. As you said in your article:" If so, who would decide a “fair” sweetener amount? If $5 is fair, why not $6, and so on?"

Take it one step further - if FAAB units are used to accumulate talent, why shouldn't auction units be traded as well - after all - they are both being used for the same purpose -if one is fair game, why not another?

I was always under the impression that part of the fun of this hobby was to manage one's self in all aspects within the rules - which includes living up to one's bidding mistakes in FAAB or trying to hoard units above and beyond one's allotment. Stop bidding 41 units on Ryan Lavarnway instead (hypothetical).
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