An interesting feature of Tout Wars is FAAB reclaim. An owner can request reimbursement of money spent on any player taken on draft day if he goes onto his MLB team’s disabled list. The cash rebate is 100 percent until the All-Star break and 50 percent after.
When first introduced, the trigger for FAAB reclaim was placement on the 60-day disabled list. The thought was that the 60-day DL was often used for players out for the season, which dovetailed with the original intent of the rule. Unfortunately, it was not a foolproof approach since the 60-day cannot be used by MLB squads until their 40-man roster is full. As a result, some players out for the season never made it to the 60-day.
Tout then swung the pendulum the other way, changing the rules to allow FAAB reclaim on any disabled player, even if he spends just the minimum 15 days out. To safeguard against any potential funny business, a stipulation was added that requires the drafting owner to pay the full original price if he later wants to try to buy his cashed-in player back.
As mentioned in this column recently, Baseball HQ’s Phil Hertz set off a bidding war when he turned in David Wright for FAAB reclaim just before the break. A few weeks later, Hertz figured out a twist with his next injured star. Rather than turn Pirates infielder Josh Harrison in for $18 FAAB, Hertz traded Harrison to USA TODAY’s Steve Gardner for more than the reclaim amount, $20. Both owners were happy, as Hertz received more cash and Gardner paid less than if a bidding scrum for Harrison had ensued the next week.
Two players who generated no interest after their respective FAAB reclaims come from the St. Louis Cardinals – first baseman Matt Adams and ace right-hander Adam Wainwright. It was not surprising as both were deemed out for the season after surgery – Adams with a Grade 3 quad strain and Wainwright with an Achilles injury.
As a result, Wainwright was cashed out by Lenny Melnick in early-May and Adams by Gene McCaffrey that same month.
While some of my peers are holding money hoping for difference-makers in September call-ups, I decided to spring into action now based on snippets of information that the two might make it back during the final month, after all.
While Adams has been out, the Cardinals have received very little production from the first base position. Mark Reynolds was a major disappointment as has deadline trade acquisition Brandon Moss. Rookie Stephen Piscotty was called up to play first, but is now stationed in left field due to Matt Holliday’s injury.
In other words, the Cardinals need Adams’ bat as soon as he can get ready.
Adams has progressed to the point he is hitting and fielding. When I learned he would be heading to Florida this week for rehab, I was ready to jump. My fear was that others were reading this too, so I bid most of my remaining cash, $25. As it turned out, I was alone in my interest, paying just $1 due to Tout’s Vickrey rule.
Wainwright has been saying all along that his goal was to return in 2015. Most, including me, wrote off the talk as coming from an overly-optimistic player. However, this past week, it was divulged that Wainwright is throwing from 90 feet and may be cleared to go back on the mound in a couple of weeks. Even if he returns in the final month, it could be as a reliever. Yet his success in that role in 2006 was enough for me to spend $1 and take a week of no stats now.
It is also worth noting that both players can be moved to the Tout disabled list next week and I can reuse their active roster spots on other free agents until after they are activated by St. Louis. Since the two cost me a total of just $2, I still have the third-most money in the league.
In other words, the limited risk and potential considerable upside in September made going after these two veterans a no-brainer move for me.
If your league rules allow adding disabled players and stashing them without penalty, consider such moves with players like Wright, Harrison (activated Friday), Adams and Wainwright. You may be glad you did – compared with waiting for kids who may never come and if they do, may not cause a blip on the final-month radar.
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.