In his brief time in the Major Leagues, barely three and a half seasons, Yoenis Cespedes is already wearing his fourth uniform. The most recent change was the Cuban's non-waiver deadline move from the Detroit Tigers to the New York Mets.
The outfielder was also primed to move to his second National League Tout Wars team in just two days last weekend – until the deal unraveled due to a rules violation that surprised some and angered others.
With the second-most money remaining last weekend, Lenny Melnick acquired Cespedes for $78 of his remaining $82 for the season. Tout’s free agent period ends each week on Sunday evening at midnight Eastern.
Inside of 24 hours, Melnick had participated in a major trade, sending his newest star to Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ on Monday. His take was young Pirates ace Gerrit Cole.
There was a problem, however. The Tout Wars constitution specifically states that the weekly deadline had passed. In fact, the trade and weekly FAAB deadlines are the same.
“All free agent bids and trade transactions must be communicated to the SWAT by 12:00am ET Mondays (midnight Sunday),” the rules state.
While the trade could still be executed, in effect the two players, Cespedes and Cole, would have to remain on their old teams for the next seven days.
Melnick appealed, noting that the SWAT for his league had allowed Monday trades to stand in the past.However, there is a higher court. Four Tout leaders make up the leagues’ governing board, called the LLC. They backed the constitution and nullified the swap – for that week.
One of the LLC members, Peter Kreutzer, admitted that, “This rule may not have always been followed in the past, but these have been the rules for some time. Editorial note: I'm not sure why. It doesn't make sense to me, but that's a discussion for another time,” he concluded.
At that point, rather than wait a week for the trade to go into effect, Melnick called it off entirely. A bewildered Hertz still wanted to proceed.
Though Melnick’s decision was initially represented to me as being based on concern over potential injury during the upcoming seven days, there was more to it than that alone.
“Never know what develops during week,” Melnick replied in shorthand. “Cespedes is who was requested so deal took 3 minutes to make. Also, since I’m only interested in K and wins, another 1 or 2 pitchers may emerge. Also have an offer for another pitcher who may be (a) Cole equal at a lesser price.”
After further discussion between Hertz and Melnick, the two decided to let the Cespedes-Cole deal stand, after all - unless there is an injury before Sunday, that is.
Interestingly, another trade - between Patrick Davitt and Cory Schwartz in the Tout Mixed Auction league - was pushed back last Monday for similar reasons.
Due to the attention on this rule, Kreutzer says he will work to change it during the offseason. He believes the weekly trade deadline should be either noon or the first game on Monday.
After thinking about this some more, I am not so sure, however. In re-reading the Tout rules further, I think I understand why the deadlines are as they are – at least in this specific case.
All players acquired for FAAB are required to spend a week on the active roster of the acquiring team. An immediate trade, such as with Cespedes, would nullify this.
That does not mean that almost all other trades could not occur on Monday, though.
As always, my thought in sharing details from my league is for you to look at your leagues’ rules to potentially avoid such problems by making changes ahead of conflict.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