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April 14, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Auction Leagues and Salary/Contract Dynamics

by Mike Gianella


If you play in a keeper league, one of the most frustrating things about the start of the regular season is that there isn’t a lot of advice out there for you. Nearly all of the fantasy content generated during the regular season is geared toward the here and now. Some advice might look ahead to later in the current season, but little if any advice looks beyond this season.

In a keeper league, you should have a strong foundation not only of this year’s values but of future valuation. This applies not only if you have packed it in and are playing for 2015 but if you are playing for this year as well. Owners playing for this year probably have an even more difficult job than owners who have packed it in, as they have to figure out the best way to sell their next year assets to non-contenders in an effort to win this year.

Below are only a few considerations that owners in freeze leagues with player salaries and contracts have to take into account.

Long-Term Contracts
In leagues that allow freezes, many allow for players to be carried over for at least one more season before they have to be thrown back into the player pool. Other leagues allow for players to be kept for multiple seasons. In auction leagues, a long-term contract is typically the mechanism used to balance the desire to keep players for a few more seasons without allowing owners to keep players forever. There are two common contract rules:

  • $5 per season is added for each additional season you wish to retain a player using a one-time bump. For example, prior to the 2014 season, you had Mike Trout at $10. You gave him a $20 contract for three years. You now have him at $20 per season from 2014-2016.
  • $5 per season is added once a year right before your auction. In the example above, Mike Trout would be $15 in 2014, $20 in 2015, and $25 in 2016. This methodology seems better for a $10 player like Trout, but for a player who was purchased at auction from $1-3, he could be taken out of the auction or draft for a long, long time. For example, a four-dollar Trout could feasibly be kept from 2014 through 2019 at salaries of nine, $14, $19, $24, $29, and $34. Thirty-four dollars is market price for an in-his-prime Trout, but since the decision doesn’t have to be made until prior to the 2019 season, there is little if any risk placed on the fantasy owner. In leagues with moderate to heavy inflation, Trout theoretically can be kept out of the pool even longer.

Free Agent Salaries
In leagues that use free-agent bidding, the salary of a player usually escalates the following year if you wish to keep the player. In some leagues, the salary increases to five dollars while in others it increases to $10 or even higher. The impact of this rule can be two-fold. Lower free agent salaries can increase dumping opportunities for earlier pick-ups but can also make owners who are out of it less likely to dump for marginal players and try their luck in the free agent pool. A $10 floor makes it less likely that a free agent will turn into a future keeper gem, so the same principles apply in the other direction (harder for contenders to “find” dump chips; harder for non-contenders to pick on up via free agency).

Farm/Reserve Rules
In leagues with liberal minor-league rules, I would argue that there is almost no reason to dump for a minor-league player unless it is an elite talent like Byron Buxton or Javier Baez. If you are allowed to keep picking up minor-league players and churning all year, it makes it easy to simply pay attention to the minor leagues and pick up the hotter minor league bats and arms. Some leagues, however, don’t allow for in-season prospect speculating so it makes acquiring quality players in-season via trade more essential.

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Related Content:  Fantasy,  Keeper Leagues,  Auctions

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Raising Aces: Starting... (04/11)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Sma... (04/09)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Fig... (04/16)
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Fantasy Article Interleague Report: We... (04/14)

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