The Verdict: the risks of NL and AL-only leagues

With the major league trade deadline almost upon us, some trades already have had a major impact in fantasy baseball leagues. Two of the biggest involved the Chicago Cubs, who first dealt Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers, and then Alfonso Soriano to the New York Yankees.

Your first impression may be that both Garza and Soriano will see an increase in production by being on better teams that are in pennant races. That is accurate. But if you play in a NL-only or AL-only fantasy baseball league, is that the first thing that crosses your mind?

For fantasy owners in NL-only leagues who had Garza or Soriano on your rosters, you now have an empty roster spot with nothing to show for it. Players who are traded to the other league are rendered useless in most AL or NL-only formats. That can hurt your chances at a championship if you are not prepared. That is not to say that Garza or Soriano would lead you to victory on their own. But they are solid complementary players; you would expect compensation if they were taken off your team.

In AL-only leagues, fantasy owners now have two tremendous free agents available on the waiver wire. That is why it is important to keep enough free agent auction dollars in your pocket or do your best to manage your waiver priority position around this time of year to be able to acquire free agents who change leagues.

The lesson from all of this, especially in AL or NL-only leagues, is to pay close attention to the rumor mill. Certain players every year are the subject of trade rumors all winter and all spring. Those players can become big risks to hold onto deep into July, so you need to carefully evaluate whether it is in your best interests to take the chance that they will survive the trade deadline. Part of that evaluation must include accepting some sort of discount for these players. Remember, if they are risky for you, they are just as risky for someone else. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to get as much as you can for a player under these circumstances. But you need to be realistic in assessing a player’s value when he is likely to get traded and there is a possibility of that player changing leagues.

There are some players who you just know going into the season are going to be the center of trade rumors. Garza was heavily rumored to be traded last year and it never happened, so we all knew it was just a matter of time before it did happen this year. Other players more surprisingly find themselves amid trade rumors if their team falls out of contention or contract extension talks break down. You as a fantasy baseball player need to be keenly aware of everything going on so you can be as prepared as possible to manage your roster if you own any of these players.

Of course, this is all depends on how your AL or NL-only league rules are set up. Some leagues could allow a player to continue to accrue points while he is playing for a team outside the confines of your league-specific universe. If that is the case, then this is all a moot point.

But in most such leagues, a player traded to the other league will no longer accrue points and is rendered useless. Make sure you know your league’s rules and take appropriate action when it comes to handling players who are rumored to be traded. While rumors are not fact at the moment, we have so much inside information within the baseball and fantasy baseball community that it elevates your mere conjecture into an educated preemptive strike.

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  1. Andrew said...

    How many AL- or NL-only leagues still have the original Rotisserie rule that once a player is traded he’s essentially a dead guy?  We got away from that in the late 1990’s.

    Since the advent of interleague play well over a decade ago, most services offer the option to have the stats carry over, and what curmudgeonly commissioner would choose not to enable that?

    Our NL-only league’s rule is simply that newly-minted NL players (and players traded to the AL) can’t be protected in the following year. It keeps the FAAB and trade activity hopping through the doldrums of summer.

    Granted, there is a diminshment of value in some interleague trades (the NL closer becomes a setup guy on contenting AL team), but rarely is such a move a squad-killer.

  2. SB said...

    Having lost several players over the course of the past few years in my AL only league, I lobbied for players dealt to the NL to continue to accrue points this season.  The commish was up for it, but when he threw it out to the league, people basically dismissed the idea outright because “it’s an AL only league.”  Frustrating.  Personally, I like diminishing the luck factor as much as possible in roto baseball.  If you want to win because of luck, get your kicks playing fantasy football.

  3. Greg said...

    Or save your FAAB in the event that you lose a player to the other league. To me, it’s all about knowing who potential trade candidates are and trading them early on or holding on and hoping. I lost Soriano but I had the most FAAB and used enough to guarantee Yelich, who wasn’t availabe in my league until this past week due to our league rules. I also moved Pence who was in rumours all week. Turns out, I didn’t have to but I activated Cory Dickerson to cover until Ludwick comes back. The key is being prepared. There is usually a few decent players coming into your league, this year not so much, or a new rookie getting a chance now that a spot was vacated for them.

  4. birrrdy! said...

    NL only keeper league.  I lost both Garza and Soriano to the AL.  Oh, and I traded for Braun right before he got injured, made his first career trip to the DL, and then…  yeah y’know.

    So now I’ve got Olt wasting a roster spot for me (and Braun, since I can’t drop him), and am utterly convinced my team is cursed.  Also recently traded for Stanton, and was half expecting him to go the Red Sox at the last minute yesterday.  Brutal year!

    Hung on to a bunch of Cardinals and Diamondbacks hoping to get Peavy back perhaps.  No go.  The revolving door only went one way on this one.  ugh…

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