Cajun Crawdads vs. 2 Louns Crew – 5 F.J. 539 (September 7, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (J.Soler/J.Harrison/M.Ozuna)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Cajun Crawdads vs. 2 Louns Crew

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE

Decided September 7, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 539 (September 2014)

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 Cajun Crawdads traded Will Venable (OF-SD, $1.40 in the second year of his existing contract with one year remaining), Matt den Dekker (OF-NYM, $1.00 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining), Chad Billingsley (SP-LAD, $0.10 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining) and Jorge Soler (OF-CHC, $0.50 on a minor league contract) to 2 Louns Crew in exchange for Josh Harrison (2B-PIT, $1.00 in the first year of his existing contract with two years remaining) and Marcell Ozuna, $0.50 in the second year of his existing contract with one year remaining)..

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Cajun Crawdads and 2 Louns Crew 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.

The IL 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).

At first glance, the trade of Will Venable, Matt den Dekker, Chad Billingsley and Jorge Soler in exchange for Josh Harrison and Marcell Ozuna looks fair and equitable in terms of present day value.  None of the players in this deal are considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny merely because of how valuable they are.  See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).

Typically the only circumstances where we will reject a trade are: 1) if the deal is made in violation of league rules; 2) if the deal is made through collusion; 3) the deal is so grossly lopsided that is has a detrimental effect on the whole league; and 4) if the deal makes absolutely no sense and/or fails to improve at least one of the team’s rosters in any capacity.  Grand Theft Votto vs. That Wimpy Deer, 6 F.J. 39, 42 (April 2014).  Given the circumstances surrounding this trade, we are only analyzing whether numbers 3 or 4 apply.

This deal involves the exchange of players at various positions.  When a trade such as this is consummated involving the exchange of players at all different positions, it can reasonably be concluded that both GM’s have different interests and priorities with respect to the composition of their rosters.  See In Pursuit of the Grail vs. Reloading Again, 6 F.J. 12, 13 (March 2014).

The Cajun Crawdads are currently in 4th place and only 3.5 points out of 3rd place.  They are clearly still competing this season, and as such this trade epitomizes the dichotomy of keeper league trade strategy where one team in contention has a “win now” mentality by acquiring more expensive players coupled with a trade partner who building for the future by selling off assets.  Knights vs. Seawolves, 5 F.J. 46, 48 (May 2013).  On the other hand, 2 Louns Crew is in 11th place and is building towards the future.

The acquisitions of both Josh Harrison[1] and Marcell Ozuna will help the Cajun Crawdads significantly for the remainder of the year.  Harrison has emerged as a star player with eligibility at multiple positions which adds to his value.  He is currently batting .315 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 66 runs scored and 17 stolen bases.  Plus, he only costs $1.00 and has two more years left on his contract.  Ozuna has also had a solid seasons proving he can hit major league pitching.  Ozuna has amassed a .264 batting average with 19 home runs, 78 RBI, 64 runs scored and three stolen bases.

In return, 2 Louns Crew continues to try and build for the future with the acquisition of Jorge Soler who is the centerpiece of this package.  Soler is the latest Cuban defector to reach the big leagues and make a splash.  In just 34 at bats, Soler already has three home runs and 11 RBI to go along with a .382 batting average.  He will only cost $0.50 to keep for the next several years which could be tremendous value depending on how quickly he develops.

In addition to Soler, 2 Louns Crew also acquired Will Venable and Matt den Dekker as inexpensive outfield options.  Neither is likely going to contribute much offensively, but they provide depth if so desired to be retained.  The last player acquired by 2 Louns Crew is Chad Billingsley for only $0.10.  He has missed most of the past two seasons with arm injuries and surgeries.  Billingsley was once a solid fantasy pitcher, so if he can somehow come back for 2015 and remain healthy, he could provide great value at such a discounted price.  Even if he does not come back or struggles mightily, he doesn’t cost much so it will not have a negative impact on 2 Louns Crew’s overall bottom line.

This trade falls square within the keeper league trade strategy dichotomy.  The Cajun Crawdads have fulfilled their needs with the acquisitions of Harrison and Ozuna.  Not only will they help for the rest of this season, but they can provide good value for the remainder of their respective contracts at reasonable prices.  In addition, 2 Louns Crew continues his rebuilding towards 2015 with the acquisition of Jorge Soler.  This could be a major turning point for this GM as Soler could become a star much like how Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu have burst on the scene over the past couple years.  There is sufficient value being exchanged for each other.  The motivations of both teams are obvious and the deal satisfies the needs of both parties.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Cajun Crawdads and 2 Louns Crew.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

[1] He left the Pirates’ game on September 6, 2014 after rolling his ankle and could miss some time.  Currently it is unknown exactly how long he will be out.

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