Polcats vs. Cajun Crawdads – 5 F.J. 139 (July 31, 2013) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (A.Rendon/N.Syndergaard)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Polcats vs. Cajun Crawdads

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE

Decided July 31, 2013
Cite as 5 F.J. 139 (July 2013)

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The Incontinent League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “IL” is a 12-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’s commissioner submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved.

Procedural History

The Polcats traded Darin Ruf (OF-PHI, $1.00 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining), Noah Syndergaard (SP-NYM, $0.50 in the minor leagues and can be retained at this salary until he is promoted), and Juan Lagares (OF-NYM, $1.00 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining) to the Cajun Crawdads in exchange for Anthony Rendon (2B-WAS, $0.50 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining).

Issue Presented

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

Decision

The Court has consistently ruled that people who participate in fantasy leagues should be given the freedom to manage their teams according to their own preferences.  Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness.  See Gangrene Master Yoda vs. Team Dizzle, 4 F.J. 284, 285 (October 2012);4 Ponies vs. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).

When presented with a dispute over the fairness or equitability of a trade, the Court will evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained.   Victoria’s Secret vs. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010).  Typically, the approval or rejection of a trade is based on whether the deal was made without collusion, has equitable consideration, and comports with the best interests of the league.  See 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 Darin Ruf, Noah Syndergaard and Juan Lagares in exchange for Anthony Rendon looks fair and equitable.  None of the players involved in this trade are considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny.  See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).

The Incontinent League is a keeper league which can lead to a different evaluation of a trade as opposed to a non-keeper or redraft 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).

This trade represents an exchange of several young players with upside being swapped for each other.  The Polcats, currently in last place, have spent a majority of this season acquiring young talent to build their team for the future.  Being a new team in the league, they have laid out a plan to accumulate players who can help them be competitive over the next two years.  This deal represents a continuance of that plan by acquiring Anthony Rendon.  Rendon has shifted to second base during his rookie season which has been somewhat of a factor with his recent offensive struggles.  However, he is a highly regarded prospect who has already shown he can hi major league pitching.  By all accounts, he will remain a fixture in Washington’s lineup going forward, irrespective of what position he ultimately ends up playing.

In order to obtain a player like Rendon, the Polcats dipped into the surplus of young players they have previously acquired.  The key piece in the package being sent to the Cajun Crawdads is Mets’ pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard.  Syndergaard has become one of the premiere pitching prospects in baseball as he is already in Double-A and was featured in this year’s All Star Futures Game.  The Cajun Crawdads will be able to retain Syndergaard for $0.50 a year until he is eventually promoted to the big leagues, likely in late 2014 or 2015.

In addition to Syndergaard, the Cajun Crawdads also acquired Phillies rookie outfielder Darin Ruf.  In this season of transition for Philadelphia, Ruf is being given an opportunity to play due to injuries to Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard, as well as an overall lack of production from the rest of their lineup.  In a small sample of 17 games, Ruf is batting .310 with two homeruns and four RBI.  The Cajun Crawdads also acquired Mets outfielder Juan Lagares who has emerged as their everyday centerfielder.  Known primarily for his defense, Lagares has thrived offensively in July to raise his batting average to .262 along with two homeruns and 18 RBI.

All players involved in this deal are young, inexpensive, and under contract long term.  While this trade will not have a major impact on either team this season, it is apparent that both teams approached the deal with the future in mind.  The value and compensation exchanged represents fair and equitable value.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Polcats and the Cajun Crawdads.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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