Lil Nicky vs. Moneymakers – 6 F.J. 310 (July 1, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (Y.Puig/R.Braun/G.Gonzalez)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Lil Nicky vs. Moneymakers

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE JABRONI LEAGUE

Decided July 1, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 310 (July 2014)

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called the Jabroni League (hereinafter referred to as “JL” was established in 1999 and is hosted on CBS.  The JL is a 12-team mixed AL/NL keeper league where teams are permitted to maintain a maximum of six (6) players.  GM’s can either retain players under a one-year contract or a three-year contract.  If a player was acquired during the auction draft, his value escalates $5.00 the following season.  If a player was acquired via free agency, his value escalates $8.00 the following season and then $5.00 every subsequent year capped at three years of keeper eligibility.

The JL uses a standard 5×5 format for its 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.

All trades made between GM’s are subject to review.  Due to the fact that the JL is comprised of several clusters of family members and close relatives, the commissioner has the sole authority to submit all trades to the Court for review to avoid any potential conflicts.

The commissioner has submitted a trade to the Court for review to determine whether it should be approved or rejected.

Procedural History

Lil Nicky traded AJ Pollack (OF-ARZ, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015), Yasiel Puig (OF-LAD, must be kept for $13.00 in 2015 and $18.00 in 2016) and Chris Young (SP-SEA, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015) to the Moneymakers in exchange for Kyle Seager (3B-SEA, cannot be kept in 2015), Ryan Braun (OF-MIL, can be kept for $39.00 in 2015), Alcides Escobar (SS-KC, can be kept for $8.00 in 2015) and Gio Gonzalez (SP-WAS, can be kept for $23.00 in 2015).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between Lil Nicky and the Moneymakers 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 JL 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 Yasiel Puig, A.J. Pollock and Chris Young in exchange for Ryan Braun, Kyle Seager, Alcides Escobar and Gio Gonzalez looks slightly inequitable in terms of present-day value.  Both Braun and Puig are considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny merely because of how valuable they are.  Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).  The fact that they are being exchanged for each other does help minimize the impact of trading superstar players such as them.

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).  GM’s in roto leagues are free to prioritize which categories they want to pursue improvement in when making trades and managing their rosters.  Team Sabo vs. 4 Ponies, 5 F.J. 167 (August 2013) (approving a trade where a team higher in the standings traded Mat Latos for Homer Bailey because he needed improvement in the WHIP category despite Bailey having better statistics with wins, ERA and strikeouts); Joba’s Mustache vs. Obtuse Wardens, 5 F.J. 40, 41 (May 2013); Stud Muffins vs. Cajun Crawdads, 4 F.J. 61, 63 (May 2012).

Since the record is devoid of any information regarding where either of these teams are in the standings, we can only draw inferences from the trade itself on whether the dichotomy of keeper league trade strategy is being employed.  Knights vs. Seawolves, 5 F.J. 46, 48 (May 2013) (holding that keeper leagues tend to demonstrate a dichotomy in trade strategy where one team is in a “win now” mentality coupled with a trade partner looking to build for the future by trading away expensive assets).  We can surmise that Lil Nicky looking to contend for a league championship and win right now by acquiring the expensive contracts of Ryan Braun and Gio Gonzalez, along with the expiring contract of Kyle Seager.  Seager is still relatively under the radar but he has consistently been one of the better offensive third baseman in baseball over the past few years.  He is currently batting .277 with 12 home runs and 55 RBI and likely represents an upgrade at third base or corner infield for Lil Nicky.

In contrast, the Moneymakers continue to rebuild for the future following their previous trade that was approved.  See Bada Bing Boys vs. Moneymakers, 6 F.J. 306 (July 2014) (approving the trade of Chris Davis, Joe Mauer, Jayson Werth and Alex Wood in exchange for Kendrys Morales, Johnny Cueto and Yan Gomes).  Here, the Moneymakers were going to lose Seager at the end of the year anyway, so it makes sense that they would try and obtain some form of compensation for him now.  While Ryan Braun is a superstar outfielder, the Moneymakers have more than replaced him with a younger and less expensive Yasiel Puig.

The acquisitions of Pollock and Young are generally not equitable for the quality of Gonzalez, Seager and Escobar. In fact, neither Pollock nor Young are likely to be kept in 2015.  But the Court must acknowledge that Young has statistically been better than Gonzalez this year in all categories except strikeouts.[1]  However, overall Gonzalez is a better pitcher with more fantasy upside now and in the future.

But after making this trade, the Moneymakers will save $41.00 in salary cap space for 2015.  That is significant for their rebuilding purposes and also gives them added flexibility to make additional moves later this season as well.  While obtaining salary cap flexibility in a keeper is league is one of the many objectives teams have for making trades to rebuild for the future, its benefits can be trumped by the inequitability of the current players being traded away.  Beaver Hunters vs. 4 Ponies, 4 F.J. 129, 131 (July 2012).  But that is not the case here.

Even without knowing their rosters or the current standings, this deal appears to make sense from both teams’ perspectives.  See Los Pollos Hermanos vs. Little Stumps, 3 F.J. 192, 195 (October 2011) (holding that 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).  The compensation being exchanged is fair and equitable, and the deal itself satisfies both parties’ respective needs.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between Lil Nicky and the Moneymakers.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


[1] Through July 1, 2014, Gio Gonzalez is 5-4 with a 3.93 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 71 strikeouts in 68.2 innings as compared to Chris Young who is 7-4 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 91.1 innings.

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