Cajun Crawdads vs. Beaver Hunters – 4 F.J. 245 (September 2012) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (J.Reyes/I.Davis/A.Hill)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Cajun Crawdads vs. Beaver Hunters

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE

Decided September 5, 2012
Cite as 4 F.J. 245 (September 2012)

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The Incontinent League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “IL” is an 11-team NL-only keeper league utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform.  Teams are permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with individual players allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) consecutive years under contract.  Each team is also permitted to keep two minor league players which are in addition to the ten players kept.  This roto league also has a $26.00 draft salary cap, as well as a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.   

As with many rotisserie leagues, the Incontinent League uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money.  For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases.  For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves.  Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the Roto league.

The Incontinent League submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved.

Procedural History

The Cajun Crawdads have made a trade with the Beaver Hunters.  The Cajun Crawdads traded Ike Davis (1B-NYM, $0.50 in the final year of his existing contract) and Jose Reyes (SS-MIA, $3.40 in the final year of his existing contract) to the Beaver Hunters in exchange for Aaron Hill (2B-ARZ, $0.50 with one year remaining on his existing contract).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Cajun Crawdads and the Beaver Hunters be approved?

Decision

The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades.  People pay money to participate in fantasy leagues, and generally they should be afforded the freedom to manage their team accordingly.  Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness.  See 4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).

It is well documented that there is a different analysis of trades in a keeper league as opposed to a non-keeper league.  A trade that may look facially uneven or lopsided could easily pass muster in a keeper league.  Trades made between teams in a keeper league need to be analyzed by other factors besides merely comparing statistics.  Grave Diggers vs. Chilidogs, 4 F.J. 5, 8 (January 2012).  These other factors include salary cap flexibility, contractual status of players, and long-term planning at the expense of the current season.  Smittydogs vs. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 33 (June 2010); Winners vs. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011) (holding that team owners in keeper leagues with no hope of contending in the current season must make critical roster management decisions of whether to trade established players to help build for the future).

The Court will evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained.  See Victoria’s Secret vs. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010).  The Court will not undermine a fantasy owner’s ability to manage his/her team unless a deal is unfair or inequitable, ripe with collusion, or not in the best interests of the league.  Whether a trade is objectively   intelligent or popular will not be part of the analysis.  4 Ponies vs. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 27 (June 2011).  The virtue of a trade is measured in both quantifiable criteria and subjective needs of the teams involved.  Carson City Cocks vs. Stud Muffins, 3 F.J. 23, 24 (May 2011).

No evidence has been submitted indicating any alleged collusion or malfeasance.  As such, the Court will operate on the presumption that there is no collusive conduct between the parties.

At first glance, the trade of Ike Davis and Jose Reyes in exchange for Aaron Hill does not look fair and equitable in terms of present day value.  In an NL-only league, Reyes can be considered an elite shortstop for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny merely because of how valuable he is based on his statistics and name recognition  See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011). 

This trade furthers the Cajun Crawdads’ purging of their 8th place team as they attempt to rebuild for the future.  When a team owner in a keeper league no longer has any hope for contending in the current season, he must make a critical roster management decision of whether to trade off established players in an attempt to build for the future.  Winners v. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011).  The motivation to trade Reyes and Davis is augmented by the fact that both of their contracts expire at the end of the season and they will return to the draft in 2013.  Therefore, the Cajun Crawdads are motivated to obtain some benefit for them. 

Jose Reyes is clearly the best player in this trade as he is one of the preeminent shortstops in all of baseball.  He has had a successful inaugural season in Miami after signing a lucrative six-year contract.  Currently Reyes is batting .281 with 11 homeruns, 47 RBI, 73 runs scored and 34 stolen bases.  He has stayed healthy all season and has transitioned into the 3rd place hitter in the Marlins depleted lineup.  He will re-enter the draft in 2013 and it should be interesting to see how his value is affected if he is permanently entrenched as the #3 hitter because his stolen base totals will continue to decrease.

Ike Davis is also a free agent at the end of the season and has had a productive second half after suffering a horrendous beginning to the season.  Davis has his average up to .224 which is a marked improvement compared to being below the Mendoza line in July.  He has produced 25 homeruns and 74 RBI which is solid for a second-tier first baseman.

In return, the Cajun Crawdads acquired Aaron Hill of the Diamondbacks.  Hill has enjoyed a resurgence as a very productive second baseman in terms of power and speed at a very scarce position.  Hill also has another year left on his contract so the Cajun Crawdads can utilize him at only $0.50 which is a great value.

When analyzing the fairness and equity of a trade, the Court will consider each team’s individual needs to assess whether the trade subjectively made sense from each team’s perspective.  See Cajon Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks, 1 F.J. 41, 42 (June 2010) (upholding a trade for Jason Bay because of the Carson City Cocks’ desperate need for a starting outfielder due to the demotion of Cameron Maybin).  This trade makes sense for both teams.  Clearly the Beaver Hunters improve their team with the acquisitions of Reyes and Davis.  They are currently in 3rd place and are 6.5 points out of 1st place.  Reyes will help mightily in stolen bases which has been one of the Beaver Hunters’ biggest weaknesses all season.  On the other hand, the Cajun Crawdads were able to unload two expiring contracts and got back one of the better second baseman in an NL-only league. 

A trade will be rejected when the Court cannot objectively ascertain any benefit to one of the teams and the net result in no way makes a team better now or in the future.  Los Pollos Hermanos v. Little Stumps, 3 F.J. 192, 195 (October 2011).  As previously discussed, the trade makes the Beaver Hunters better as they pursue a league championship or at least fight to secure 3rd place.  The Cajun Crawdads suffer major downgrades at first base and shortstop for the rest of the season, but they would have lost Reyes and Davis at the end of the year anyway.  Here, they get a top second baseman at a low salary for 2013.

The difference in salary cap with this trade is $3.40 which is significant for the Cajun Crawdads.  This deal epitomizes trades that are made in keeper leagues where teams decide to either compete for the current season or look to build for the future.  The value of the players involved is not commensurate in terms of present day value.  However, it furthers the goals and interests of both teams who are heading in opposite directions.  Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court decides that this trade should be approved as it comports with the best interests of the league. 

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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