1. Teams, in an effort to improve their future prospects, may not be attempting to be fully competitive in the current season long before "traditional" sell-off dates.
2. Teams may not be fielding a full roster of MLB players leading to widely varying circumstances for individual head-to-head matchups.
3. Minor league prospects may be picked up and traded in a very short period of time for established MLB players who can have a significant impact on the current season.
The league currently exists as a keeper league, but has transitioned into a pseudo-dynasty league over the years. Often, keeper leagues place a limit on the number of players that can be kept year to year (sometimes based on positional eligibility or other criteria) in an effort to keep a significant player pool available in the draft or auction every season. However, RBL uses a financial-based system that places no strict limitations on keeping players short of the $260 salary cap. as a result, the league has become a pseudo-dynasty league where teams devote various percentages of their roster to minor league prospects in an effort to control cheap talent with high ceilings (i.e. find the next Mike Trout). I believe that it is this middle ground between limited-keeper league and full dynasty league that is causing consternation.
Additionally, with relatively few impact players available in the auction each year, some teams may feel that rebuilding a competitor is more of a multi-year process than something that can be accomplished in a single auction (with the notable exception of George, who is a freak of nature and disproves everything about everything).
This has led to a serious inflation in the value of prospects in RBL where "hitting" on a prospect can change an entire team's future potential in the mind of its owner. As such, a higher percentage of roster spots (with variation for competing teams versus rebuilding teams) are being devoted to holding not just young prospects making their debut, but players that may only see a very limited cup of coffee in the current season and may be several years from making significant contributions .
Previous proposals to address these issues as they've developed have revolved around the salary escalation structure for rookies and non-rookies. A proposal was accepted that rookie-eligible prospects would see their salary increase +$1 every year, while all others would continue on the +$5, +$3, and +$1 cycle for long-term contracts. Efforts on this front have generally failed and I believe it is due to the nature of the owners in the league. We become attached to our players. We want to be the genius that picks the next Mike Trout and we want to succeed with a team that we've devoted considerable time and thought to. Players that we normally wouldn't think very much about become significant objects of interest that we follow not just in fantasy, but in reality. I, for one, almost always have a non-Orioles game showing on MLB At Bat featuring my starting pitcher for the night or a player who I want to evaluate for potential.
I propose that RBL transition into a more proper dynasty league. This would result in the following structural changes for roster requirements.
1. Each team's roster is reduced to 25 players, the current MLB roster size.
2. Each team has 5 DL slots.
3. Each team has a minor league roster of 5, 10, or 15 (whichever the league owners agree upon) players.
1. Each team's 25 man active roster is their official roster through ESPN. Every player on the 25 man roster must be on an active MLB 25 man roster for at least one day of the current league week (this gives owners some time to account for MLB transactions), with the exception of players on the DL.
2. Players who are on the DL may not be added from free agency. Only players who are currently on a team's roster and then go on the DL may be moved into a DL slot. The only exception is if a player is acquired via trade or in the auction is already on the DL at the time of acquisition.
1. Only minor league players at the A+ level or above will be eligible. This means teams in the International and Pacific Coast leagues (AAA); Eastern, Southern, and Texas leagues (AA); and California, Carolina, and Florida State leagues (A+).
2. If a player is promoted, that player must be added to the RBL team's 25 man roster in ESPN prior to the next matchup after the promotion. If a player is demoted, the sent to the RBL team's minor league roster and replaced with an active MLB player prior to the next matchup after the demotion.
3. Any player that is not on an RBL team's minor league roster may only be added to the team's active 25 man roster upon his promotion to MLB, at which point he becomes a regular MLB free agent.
Options for Filling Minor League Rosters
Option 1: Minor league players may be added from or dropped to free agency the same as regular MLB players or via the auction. This will be tracked via the Roster Matrix spreadsheet or with a second RBL league in ESPN (where roster sizes would be set to the minor league roster size of 5/10/15 and no MLB players would be allowed on a team), whichever is deemed appropriate.
Option 2: Minor league players may be added via the auction with the regular bidding process. Additionally, at a designated point during the season (recommended: Rule 4 Draft Day or the All-Star Break), a draft is held (via GroupMe and using the reverse standings order from the previous season) to fill out minor league rosters. Minor league players may not be added via free agency, however they may be traded (requiring the teams involved to make additions or drops in compliance with the previously stated roster rules). All minor league players are automatically kept during the offseason and have no contract value until added to an MLB roster (although you do have to find host families for them to live with).
Option 3: Regarding trades of minor league players, however the acquisition process is determined, players may not be traded within one month of acquisition (i.e. if a player is added as a free agent on June 1, he may not be traded until July 1 or if a player is added via the auction / rookie draft, he may not be traded until one month later).
This would certainly add a level of depth to our league that not all owners may be interested in. However, I think many would be, as seen by the increasing value applied to prospects by the majority of owners.
I believe that this would help resolve some of the conflicts that have arisen this season regarding the role of prospects and minor league players in roster construction and trades.
Additionally, since this is my proposal, I would take responsibility for constructing and maintaining any necessary support services (Google Sheets) for tracking and managing this minor league system and for highlighting players / teams in violation of the roster rules for their 25 man active roster automatically in the Roster Matrix.
I have ideas for how to begin the transition from our current league structure to the new structure (based on which options I provided or that others propose are selected), however I think we should address the details once we have a firmer idea of if the league is generally interested in these changes or not. However, from a basic point of view, the 2018 season would obviously be completed under the current structure. Following the season, prospects who have are not on an active MLB roster at the end of the MLB season would be assigned to the RBL team's minor league roster (unless dropped). The 2019 RBL auction would fill some slots and then depending on how the league votes to allow minor league players to be added an initial minor league draft prior to the 2019 season may need to be conducted.
I look forward to thoughts and ideas on these proposals.