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Saturday 25th Mar 2017

With the trade season upon us, those of us in non-mixed leagues wait with anticipation for deals that move stars into the American and National Leagues from the other circuits. These top players added into our available pools could be the difference maker for contending fantasy clubs trying to reach the top - or offering hope for non-contenders trying to become relevant.

This past Sunday, the on-and-off trade of Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati to Kansas City was finally consummated. Two of the players heading the other way are young pitchers John Lamb and Brandon Finnegan.

Several of us in National League Tout Wars are in need of pitching and hoped to acquire the new Reds hurlers during our weekly transaction period Sunday night at midnight. Tout rules allow the addition of players currently in the minor leagues for a $1 minimum bid.

Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ made a bid for Lamb and I took a shot at Finnegan, as both players were listed on the league website among available minor leaguers.

While both winning bids were successfully processed by the league software, they were nullified on Monday because of conflicts with the Tout constitution.

“There is no restriction on the types of players who may be bid on: Majors, minors, foreign leagues are all okay, with the exception of players on another Tout Wars active or reserve roster, or players on the 40-man roster in the opposite league (for the AL-Only and NL-Only Tout Wars leagues)…”

Both Lamb and Finnegan were 40-man roster players with both organizations. Though they moved from the AL to the NL on Sunday, the stats provider does not run its updates until overnight. As a result, it is generally accepted that Sunday MLB transactions are excluded from Tout transactions that evening.

Yet the prior point was not rendered fully explicit in the constitution. And there was a further complication. At some point, the league software had been explicitly modified to ensure that all minor leaguers in either league appeared on the site as eligible. No one could recall when and why this change was made.

In effect, even after the MLB trade, in Tout Wars, the players remained in their old leagues through the Sunday midnight transaction deadline. Lamb and Finnegan should not have been listed as available.

So when all was said and done, the league leaders ruled that Lamb and Finnegan (as well as Cueto in the American League) will not be available for acquisition in Tout until the following Sunday.

The message for you and your leagues is to not only understand the rules, but when in doubt, err on the side of action versus inaction. In this case, even though Hertz and I did not end up acquiring Lamb and Finnegan, we did not know that for sure at the time.

Further, our action helped drive a needed clarification to the league constitution and change to the player eligibility lists. Simply put, Sunday transactions will be ineligible for Sunday night inclusion in the bidding process.

Take a look at your leagues to determine if this subject could lead to similar confusion and if so, look to close the gaps before they turn into points of contention.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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