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August 4, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Leagues With In-Season Salary Caps

by Mike Gianella


One of the most common complaints from fantasy baseball players revolves around trades with disparate value. While this complaint exists in non-carryover leagues, it is a far more common issue in keeper leagues, where there is always room for debate about what constitutes fair value. Depending upon what your league is like, a cost-controlled Byron Buxton for Miguel Cabrera and Felix Hernandez trade either sounds eminently fair or like a complete and utter sham.

One conundrum in auction-style Roto leagues is that depending upon the league’s contract, salary, and freeze limit rules the market price for Buxton might very well be much higher than it is for Cabrera and Hernandez. There are several reasons that this phenomenon might occur, and to catalogue all of them is well beyond the intended scope of this article. In some leagues, though, it isn’t uncommon to see trades where three, four, or even five major league players are swapped for a cost-controlled Buxton.

While this might be the fair market price, trades like this often do create a feeling of frustration and agitation among a fantasy league. An owner’s hard work building a contender in the offseason and at the auction can be completely undone by one trade because a team out of the running valued Trout so highly. It isn’t necessarily unfair—a player’s worth is in the eye of the beholder—but it does convert fantasy baseball from a competition about trying to evaluate talent and accrue the best statistics into a race to try to acquire the hottest future studs so you can flip them to another owner at the deadline.

One way to attempt and curtail these types of trades in auction leagues is to institute a salary cap. In most auction leagues, there is a $260 Auction Day salary cap. However, an in-season salary cap isn’t necessarily a universal rule. Whether or not you want to use one depends on how you feel about the issues I outlined above.

In my long running home league, we instituted a $350 in-season salary cap years ago and it has worked out extremely well. Some have asked me why not institute an even lower salary cap like $320 if you are interested in truly curtailing this year for next year trades. The answer is because the goal of the $350 cap isn’t to completely quash dump deals, but rather to engineer a happy compromise. Our league likes pulling the trigger on dump deals but does not want to see the types of crazy 8-for-8 trades that used to turn a sixth-place team into a first-place team in one fell swoop.

I’m not here to advocate what your league should or shouldn’t do. If you do play with salary caps, though, below are a few general guidelines for how this rule will impact your league, and the best ways to navigate a league that uses this scheme.

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Related Content:  Fantasy,  Salary Caps

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Closer to Me: Week 19 (08/04)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Tra... (07/31)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: A S... (08/07)
Next Article >>
The Prospectus Hit Lis... (08/04)

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