There are several ways you can customize your fantasy baseball league to make the experience as realistic, enjoyable and competitive as possible. With the technology available from league hosting websites, you can add all the bells and whistles you want to make the league more simple or complex. But categorically speaking, your league is either a keeper (dynasty) or non-keeper (redraft) league.
Many keeper leagues also refer to themselves as dynasty leagues because the idea is that you will manage a team of players over the course of multiple seasons either by protecting a finite number or signing players to long-term contracts within the scope of your league’s salary cap restrictions. It is believed that dynasty leagues offer an experience more akin to being a general manager because you must consider the future while balancing the needs of the present.
That is not to say that non-keeper leagues don’t offer similar enjoyment or intuition. But many non-keeper leagues choose, at some point, to become a keeper league. The question is how to do that correctly.
When transitioning from a non-keeper league to a dynasty league, it is crucial that everyone starts out on an even playing field. From here on out, each team in the league is building its roster for the upcoming season and beyond. The past season’s standings and performance should not have a bearing on this new system. This concept would apply only to leagues that employ a snake-style draft because draft position and order are vitally important. In an auction league, everyone starts out with the same budget. If you choose to use a snake draft, you should have a procedure in place to randomize the draft order offering no advantages or disadvantages to anyone based on past performance.
One major factor all league members should consider is whether the commissioner is implementing any procedures that would inherently give him/her a distinct advantage. Most league commissioners are honorable and would not operate this way, but you would be surprised how many Machiavellian commissioners create advantageous rules or procedures for themselves. It never hurts to ask questions or be overly conscientious of everything.
Additionally, the commissioner should clearly lay out the rules and guidelines of how players are to be retained or signed to contracts for following seasons. This will affect everyone’s draft strategy because selecting a player near the end of his career won’t have the same long-term benefits as selecting a younger player who will be around for many more years. Knowing the rules and how to project for the future are key elements in preparing for a newly established dynasty league.
You will need to know whether your league permits roster spots for minor league for a period of time. Many dynasty leagues do allow teams to have minor leaguers who can be held under contract at a fixed rate until they are promoted to the big leagues. This is significant for league owners who really do see the big picture and look to build a solid foundation for many years to come.
Trades and transactions, are another key element of fantasy baseball roster management, are evaluated differently in dynasty leagues than in redraft leagues. This is because the value of compensation being offered or received must be looked at with both present-day and future value. Teams that fall out of contention for the current season tend to work on building their rosters for the future. To do this, they will trade away established and more expensive talent in exchange for players that have less value.
In a redraft league, players are on a roster for only the current season so whatever value they have will only serve to benefit a team right now. That is why trading an established superstar for an unknown rookie in a redraft league would likely get rejected. In a dynasty league, the same trade would likely be approved because there is more of a long-term benefit being received. Other factors used to evaluate trades in dynasty leagues include salary cap flexibility, a player’s fantasy contract status, and future draft picks or other projected compensation.
One final thought on transitioning from a redraft league: the concept of continuity and commitment. This is now a long-term commitment you are making since you will have ownership of your team and many of its players for several seasons down the road. Presumably, you are dedicated to honoring this commitment and will be a part of the league for many years. You should make sure you are in a league where the other members are just as dedicated to the long-term aspect that is now in play. If you have league owners who show little interest in their teams and the league has constant annual turnover, then the concept of a dynasty league is lost. That is not to say you can’t make it work, but ideally you should be in a league where everyone else is just as committed as you for the long haul.