Bronx Bombers vs. Bigguns Bashers – 6 F.J. 487 (August 4, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (J.Samardzija/T.Walker/J.Vargas)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Bronx Bombers vs. Bigguns Bashers

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE PELHAM BAY KEEPER LEAGUE

Decided August 4, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 487 (August 2014)

Factual Background

A head-to-head points-based fantasy baseball league called the Pelham Bay Keeper League (hereinafter referred to as “PBKL” was established in 2002 and is hosted on CBS.  The PBKL is a 12-team mixed AL/NL keeper league where teams are required to retain four (4) players.  At least one keeper must have had a salary of $2.00 during the previous season and the other three keepers can have any salary.  Any player not selected as a keeper will be eligible for the next season’s draft.  Keepers must be announced seven days prior to the draft date.  Once keepers are announced, owners may only trade one of their four keepers.  Owners may not trade players that they have not elected as one of their keepers.  Prior to keepers being announced, owners may trade any player from last season’s roster with the understanding that the players involved in the trade must be kept.The salary cap for each team is $310 which includes reserves and DL players. The salary cap will increase to $325 on July 1st. The salary for keepers will be increased as follows:

1st year: $5.00 added on to the original salary he was on your team for.
2nd year: $10.00 added on to the player’s salary after the 1st year.
3rd year: $15.00 added on to the player’s salary after the 2nd year.
4th year: $20.00 added on to the player’s salary after the 3rd year.

The PBKL’s rules regarding trades are as follows:

X. TRADES

10.1. Teams are allowed to make trades until 11:59 PM on August 31.

10.2. If a pitcher is involved in a trade, that pitcher must be kept for 3 starts or 14 lineups. A violation of this rule will result in an illegal move.

10.3. If a trade causes a team to have an illegal roster that team must correct it via waiver wire/free agency prior to lineups locking or else they will be subject to an illegal lineup.

10.4. Any team that acquires a player in a trade made prior to draft day is forced to keep the player acquired in the trade, unless a serious injury occurs.

10.5. There is no limit to the number of trades a team may make during the season.

10.6. Future year’s draft picks may be traded on July 1st and beyond, subject to approval. A maximum of 2 future draft picks may be traded during the regular season. Draft picks traded for keepers in the offseason are allowed. (a $50 deposit (per pick) is required by any team trading away a future pick).

10.7. The only “condition” you can include in a trade is a conditional draft pick regarding where they finish in the standings. You cannot add a condition that will prevent an owner from keeping a player acquired in a trade.

10.8. The fairness of all trades will be decided by a 3rd party website service.

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

Procedural History

The Bronx Bombers traded Taijuan Walker (SP-SEA, $2.00 salary in 2014) and Jason Vargas (SP-KC, $6.00 salary in 2014) to Bigguns Bashers in exchange for Jeff Samardzija (SP-OAK, $8.00 salary in 2014).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Bronx Bombers and Bigguns Bashers 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 PBKL 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 Taijuan Walker and Jason Vargas in exchange for Jeff Samardzija looks slightly inequitable.  None of the players in this deal 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).   Further, none of these players were kept last year and would all be subject to a $5.00 increase in salary if kept after the 2014 season.

When a trade such as this is consummated involving the exchange of players at the same positions, it can reasonably be concluded that both GM’s do not have any specific positional needs to address.  Rather, they are seeking specific improvement in a particular category or have other keeper league strategies in mind.  See Mudhen Wannabe’s vs. Screaming Psychopaths, 6 F.J. 399 (July 2014).  GM’s are free to prioritize the areas on their rosters that they want to pursue improvement 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).

The Bronx Bombers are currently in 1st place and are clearly looking to maintain their lead in pursuit if a championship this season.  Samardzija would certainly improve his pitching staff despite his 4-8 record.  Most of that came with the lowly Chicago Cubs who did not provide much run support and had an awful bullpen.  Despite his win-loss record, Samardzija possesses terrific peripheral numbers including a 2.92 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 130 strikeouts.  These should only improve now that he is the number two starter on a great Oakland team.

In exchange for Samardzija, Bigguns Bashers, currently in 10th place, received Taijuan Walker and Jason Vargas.  Vargas is a mediocre pitcher who simply fills a starting roster slot in this deal.  Despite that, he does have a respectable 8-5 record with a 3.68 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 87 strikeouts.  But the real value in this trade comes from Walker who is still a top pitching prospect despite being bounced back and forth between Seattle and Triple-A this year.  He is an option to be kept in 2015 for only $7.00.  This epitomizes the keeper league strategy for teams that are out of playoff contention looking to build for the future by trading away productive players in exchange for less expensive, younger talent.  See Winners vs. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011).

The Court sees no reason to reject this trade.  The value being exchanged for each other is fair and equitable.  This deal represents the motives of two teams seeking to improve at different positions and have exchanged equitable value to further those goals.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Evil Empire and WAD Squad.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

 

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