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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

One of the most interesting features in the Tout Wars leagues is in the area of reclaiming FAAB.

The rule was once tied to a 60-day disabled list stint for an injured player. This caused great frustration for owners who had a player that was clearly out for the year but whose major league team did not qualify for the use of a 60-day DL slot.

Fortunately, the rule was changed (the mark of a good league is to adapt). Now, any player on any disabled list – seven-day, 15-day or 60-day – can be dropped. If the FAAB reclaim request is made before the All-Star break, 100 percent of the amount originally paid can be recouped. If the request is made in the second half, only 50 percent of the original spend can be recovered.

Of course, that money can then be re-used to acquire a replacement – after a one-week wait.

To be honest, I think 100 percent is too rich. Getting the benefit of up to a half-season of stats from a player, then getting back all of the money initially paid – still in time for the non-waiver trade deadline flurry – seems an over-compensation.

If I was setting up the league, I might consider 2/3 reimbursement prior to the break and 1/3 after, or something like that.

At any rate, this inflection point of the All-Star break led to some interesting strategy decisions for Tout warriors.

Many of us asked ourselves, “Should I wait for an injured player to return during the second half or should I take the full 100 percent reimbursement while I can?”

A variety of different approaches were taken.

As the placer of an ill-advised, successful $15 bid for Roy Halladay on draft day, I was among this group. Perhaps it was an emotional position, but I could envision Doc riding back out of the sunset to contribute before the season is out.

Just to increase my odds, I also have his friend and former Blue Jays teammate Chris Carpenter sitting on my DL. Perhaps one of the two might come through, but I paid just $1 for Carp.

To be completely honest, I didn’t value that $15 FAAB very much. I still have $52 FAAB remaining from my initial $100. That is enough to buy what I will probably need, while $67 wouldn’t be enough to win any of the big names that might come across from the American League at the deadline, anyway.

Currently, even without the most recent FAAB reclaims credited, half the league – six owners to be exact – have 75 or more dollars remaining. Some of them are almost surely going to spend more than me while the others will either leave money on the table or be forced to overspend for marginal talent.

BaseballHQ’s Phil Hertz was another owner who had a FAAB reclaim decision to make. He could have recouped $9 for injured Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez. Always the creative thinker, Hertz dangled Rodriguez to the league, explaining his dilemma.

Hertz received no takers, perhaps because his price for Wandy was perceived to be too high. He asked for “a combination of FAAB and a good middle reliever as well as more than the $9 FAAB; or a hitting upgrade from one of my ‘adequate’ guys.”

What Phil failed to take into account, in my opinion, is the reality that if he returned Wandy to the pool, only he would have to spend as much as $9 to purchase the player as a free agent.

The rules are correctly set up to ensure an owner cannot game the system by reclaiming the full FAAB, only to re-acquire the player as a free agent the next week for $1.

However, the rest of the owners could do just that.

That is exactly what happened with Marco Estrada of the Brewers and Jon Niese of the Mets. Their original owners took the FAAB reclaim, $11 and $14, respectively.

With Estrada then sitting on the waiver wire, I placed a $1 claim, with Niese as my contingency. I made two mistakes. First of all, I should have bid more. Second of all, I should have tried to get both pitchers.

As it was, I scored Estrada with Derek Carty adding Niese. The only cost to me beyond the $1 is that I have to carry Estrada on my active roster for three days – this Friday through Sunday. Then I can place him on the DL and pick up another pitcher next week.

It is an extremely small price to pay for considerable potential upside. And if Estrada cannot make it back, then the loss was minimal. More on that next week.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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