Dances With Rules

It was a drama-filled week in my patron league Dynasty To Be Named Later (DTBNL). Last Friday, I penned a blow-by-blow account of the events leading up to and immediately following a Christian Yelich blockbuster trade in this 25-team, keep 30, roster 45 league. Now it’s time to tell episode two of the tale. It’s Dances With Rules, starring Kevin Costner.

First, for those who didn’t click the linky-link above, the trade was Yelich and some throw-ins for Luis Urias, Taylor Trammell, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Cristian Pache. Uproar ensued. I was to receive Yelich in the swap, and I still believe it to have been a fair trade. It accomplished exactly what my trading partner requested in a Yelich deal – a quantity of quality near-majors, long-term assets. Moreover, the deal did not affect competitive balance. An update to the projected standings showed literally no change (my team also entirely lacks a pitching staff and thus cannot contend).

I am both the commissioner and a participant in this league. My dual role adds to the confusion of this saga. Our constitution includes a clause which allows participants in a trade to revoke the deal within 24 hours. To wit:

24 Hour Revocability” any party to a trade may back out for any reason within 24 hours. This is done by contacting the commissioner. The owner(s) who back out may not trade the players involved for a period of 14 days from the original trade. For example, if I trade Max Muncy for Kevin Kiermaier and change my mind, I cannot trade Max Muncy for two weeks. This penalty is waived in the event of major injury during the 24-hour period. “Major injury” to be defined on a case-by-case basis at the commissioner’s discretion. These shall be listed in this document to ensure consistency. Note: It is poor form to back out of a trade. To clarify, this does not apply to verbal or written agreements – only those accepted through the FanTrax trade tool.

There’s a lot baked into this. The “for any reason” clause is to protect the commissioner from needing to make judgment calls about the validity of revoked deal. The “Note” is basically a goodwill appeal for owners to actually have a damned good reason even if it’s not explicitly required.

In any case, the deal was revoked. The owner cited “better offers.” League pressure certainly played a role. Here’s where things take an M. Night twist. Early in the process, my trade partner said in our league Discord channel:

I probably should invoke the 24 hr backout clause. But I certainly don’t want to offend. Not clear on what the “it’s poor form” means.

I immediately responded with…

Hey, take some time to digest. I’ll honor it up to next Saturday.

And he did… a full 26 hours from the time the trade was consummated. And that put us in an interesting spot because the 24-hour rule no longer applied. The commissioner (me) can only shrug and say y’all have to work this out between yourselves. The party to the trade (also me) then has to work it out.

The answer is to return Yelich via a standard trade. Technically, the 14-day waiting period won’t apply (the owner has promised to honor it anyway). Also technically, I could burn some bridges and try keep Yelich. Our constitution isn’t 100 percent clear on handshake agreements (it will be very soon), but the spirit when referenced is that they are not binding. My intent has always been that they are not binding. Whether or not an individual keeps their word is up to them. If you want to be a shitty shyster, be a shitty shyster.

To emphasize, I would never try to forcibly keep Yelich. I’m just pointing out that we’ve escaped the comfy confines of the rules. It’s Wild Wild West with guns and giant steampunk spiders. Also, I’m not above trying to squeeze a little advantage out of an unclear situation. And so, I’m currently holding Yelich hostage for at least part of the 14 days as I attempt to complete our trade.

There are pros and cons to this approach. It’s created more uproar as some bystanders don’t understand why I’m complicating matters by not immediately returning Yelich. I still think it’s possible I’ll walk away with him when the dust clears. At present, there’s no question I’m the only owner with which a deal can be completed. Perhaps most importantly, if we do agree to something like the original deal, it would immediately stand. The Yelich trade occurred on January 10 and would not be subject to revocability. Given events to date, that small consideration is… attractive. The most pressing downside is I can’t immediately trade Urias, Trammell, Pache, or Hayes if an opportunity arises.

Thankfully, the other owner is perfectly comfortable with this temporary settlement. I’ve assured him Yelich will be returned within 14 days if we cannot work out an accommodation. It’s good that we’re on the same page because there is some disagreement as to the legality of my actions. My reading of the constitution suggests I can do pretty much whatever I feel like in this situation. As the author of the constitution, I also know that was my intent. I enjoy leaving some gray area for creativity.

However, some third parties believe that when I offered to accept a revoked deal for up to a week after the trade, I did so while wearing my commissioner’s hat – namely that the rule should be immediately enforced as written via commissioner controls. I contend that it is not possible for me to extend or alter rules in this manner regardless of whether I’m speaking as commissioner or participant. Further, as the deal involved me, it should have been understood that I was speaking in my role as participant.

And so here we are. Yelich is taking a temporary vacation on our team while I dicker over details and warp rules to my nefarious purposes. The episode ensures I’ll need to update and clarify the constitution. The 24-hour clause will have additional language added to clarify the spirit of the rule. I’m also considering increasing the penalty for revoking a deal in the offseason. A 14-day cooling off period isn’t much of a deterrent in mid-January. Additionally, I’ll add a clause explicitly detailing that handshake agreements, while allowed, are not binding.

Meanwhile, my co-owner and I found a pleasant consolation prize last night – Ozzie Albies in exchange for Noelvi Marte and Slapdick Edwards. And, strangely, there was no uproar over this one.

We hoped you liked reading Dances With Rules by Brad Johnson!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

76
Leave a Reply

26 Comment authors
HauckParkrhdxkillerweaksweetBrad JohnsonDTBNL person Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Clock
Member
Clock

LOL @ no uproar over albies trade. IMO that one is more lopsided, tho more acceptable

Clock
Member
Clock

meant to say *still* acceptable