At last spring’s Tout Wars draft weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting one of fantasy baseball’s pioneers. F.X. Flinn joined us to present the SABR Trophies to the three 2009 league winners, of which I was one and our Lawr Michaels another.
F.X. was one of the original American League rotisserie players in 1982 and the editor of the first "Rotisserie League Baseball" book in 1984.
Recently, I received an email from F.X., who is recruiting a new owner for one of his long-time roto leagues, the Stamford (CT) Rotisserie League.
As he was explaining the basics of the keeper league, F.X. caught my eye with this remark. “…we don't use FAAB, we have salary arbitration…"
My natural curiosity led me to ask friends if they knew what he was talking about. No one did. So I went to the source for clarification. After all, I have come across many good rules ideas from others and the focus of this column is to share them with you.
In reply to my inquiry, I received an email response that was five printed pages in length, including an excerpt from the league constitution. These guys take their play seriously!
The key objective seems to be to avoid the pox of dump trading and keep as many owners in the hunt as possible until the end of each season. Certainly those are the noblest of intentions.
Here are some of the league’s interesting elements.
No FAAB. Claims from the free agent pool are executed from last-to-first place priority order. These free agents are assigned $5 non-renewable contracts. The league has no transaction fees, believing they penalize teams that incur injuries.
In-season maximum and minimum caps. The league has an in-season cap of $320, something I have seen in many leagues. However, they also have a more unique twist, a minimum cap that begins at $225 and drops to $200 in mid-May. This looks to be a real deterrent to mass quantities of dump trades.
Trade of waiver spots and farm picks. Teams can deal away as many as three of the current season’s waiver claims and as many as four of the next year’s farm picks.
Trade of draft dollars. Teams can add or spend as much as $15 of their $260 draft allotment, with a maximum of $10 allowed to change hands in any one trade. There must be at least one player going each way as well.
Arbitration. Players not given long-term contracts can be nominated (arbitrated) during the first three rounds of the auction draft. This includes the previous season’s signed free agents. The current owner has the right to match the high bid and the player then gets a new contract. F.X. explains this drives a greater level of owners guaranteeing long-term contracts.
The members of this league believe these rules and others help them create a player market that functions naturally, reflecting an MLB general manager’s job, without creating what they consider artificial assets like FAAB dollars.
Like any suggestions, view these through the aperture of your leagues, and determine if there are ideas that can be used directly, or perhaps with modification. No matter how good our leagues are today, they can eventually become stale. Hopefully, your compatriots are open-minded when the thought of rules changes come up.
That’s all for now. Until next week!
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.