Auction and Salary League Strategy

Nobody enjoys the preseason bombardment of fantasy league requests so even though I am a few owners short of an epic inaugural dynasty season, I have instead decided to outline the basic yet confusing strategy to building a ruthless fantasy empire.

The underlying point of this exercise is to make you aware of this incredible league I've created while also giving you the tools to dominating it. First year H2H 7x7 ESPN Salary-Prospect-Auction League

My favorite strategy in Auction leagues is to draft my team backwards. Like many of you, I'm the type of owner who revels in finding premium talent at discounted rates. When the majority of my auction budget is on the line, consistency is the first trait I look for in a player, the second is value. Four out of the ten current leaders in ADP, Miggy, Tulo, CarGo and Votto are coming off career years. I am not going to pay for what these guys did last year, and the other six are too rich for my blood also. Instead of paying $40 for Pujols, I'd rather spend $22 on Dunn and $18 on DLee. So while these guys are calculating bids for MVP candidates, I'm nominating my high-upside relievers and fourth and fifth starters. When owners are dead-locked in a heated exchange over position-scarce, tier one, all-star caliber players the last thing they want to do is invest a dollar in Matt Thornton or Jorge De La Rosa.

Now that we've touched on the auction, here are the particulars for the offseason.

5. Keepers
Each owner will be required to desgnate a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 15 players to keep prior to the following season. Keepers will be subject to contract extensions as outlined in subsection (6) of this charter. Prospects are not subject to contract extensions until their service time has been fulfilled. See subsection (9)

Fifteen keepers from a twenty-eight man roster might seem like a lot, especially if a lot of them fall in the top 100 rated players next year. However, the owner must re-sign those fifteen keepers thus increasing his team payroll by a considerable margin (maybe 35%.)  When auction time comes around next year, Mr. Keeps-a-lot will be working with table scratch compared to Frugal McGee who only kept eight players. Here are the rates at which his players salaries will be increasing.

6. Contracts
A. Budget
Each season, your team will be alotted $280 to sign keepers and bid on free agents; to field a complete roster. Keeper salaries will be deducted from $280, the remaineder will be used to bid on free agents during the preseason auction. Once the season begins, the budget is no longer in effect until the following year. Players may be added to your team or claimed off waivers with no financial impact.
B. Extensions
The owner must re-sign it's players in order to keep them the following year. Once contracts have expired, players will re-enter league auction. There are (7) options to signing keepers outlined below.
i. Option Contracts
Player may be signed to his current value plus $3, and his owner will retain the right to re-sign him the following season. (won Vlad Guerrero at auction for $22, re-signed for 2012 at $25)
ii. One-Year Contracts
Player may be signed to his current value plus $1, but the owner loses control over player after contract expires. (kept Guerrero for 2012 at $25, re-signed for 2013 at $26)
ii. Two-Year Contracts
Player may be signed to his current value plus $2 per year, and owner loses control over player after contract expires. (won Alex Rodriguez at auction for $35, re-signed for 2012 and 2013 at $37)
iii. Three-Year Contracts
Player may be signed to his current value plus $3 per year, and owner loses control over player after contract expires. (won Josh Johnson at auction for $30, re-signed for 2012, 2013 and 2014 for $33)
iv. Four, Five and Six-Year Contracts with Signing Bonuses
Player may be signed to his current value plus $4, $5, or $6 per year depending on the length of extensions, and owner loses control over player after contract expires. Player is also awarded a signing bonus equal to 1/5th of their current value rounded up to the nearest dollar, to be payed on the first year of contract. (Carlos Gonzalez was picked up midseason in 2009 for $0 and offseason value determined to be $17, re-signed for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 at $23 per year, with additional signing bonus of $4 paid in 2010)
C. Current Value
The price for which a player was obtained at auction is their "current value." Any free agent obtained mid-season who was not auctioned on, will have their auction value determined in the offseason by ESPN.

Now, for those of you who have read this far I will reveal the best and worst tactics of contract negotiotions. Starting pitchers are fragile creatures, as nice as it would be to have David Price for six years, there is a remote but real chance that he pulls a Brandon Webb. You don't have to phone a real GM to tell you it sucks paying a pitcher for a season on IR. Next is the famed "option" idea. Why commit to Carl Crawford for six years when I can just option him every year for $3. Inevitably this will happen, some owners don't realize that you're signing a new $3 increase every year. Last, I will propose the proper usage of a baseball prospect.

9. Prospects
A. Service Time
Prospects may only be drafted during MiLB draft if they have failed to attain 130 AB or 50 IP in their entire major league career. You may not add a prospect midseason through ESPN's player list. Once drafted, a prospect's service time will start the season they accrue 130 AB or 50 IP. You may keep a prospect on the farm for $0 or on your ESPN roster for $0 for three years of service time. Once the third year is complete, the owner will be required to re-sign the prospect based on the player's current value according to ESPN. An owner can choose to re-sign a prospect before the three years service time has been fulfilled.
B. Promotion
A team's prospect roster will be listed on these message boards. When you wish to promote your prospect, they may not be returned to the minor league system. Your only option's are to trade player, release player or keep player.
Like Paul DePodesta concluded in Moneyball, hitters are much more important than pitchers. But you already knew that. Then why do prospect leaguers use valuable draft picks on relievers every year? I don't know either. If you're out of contention, trade away your last two years of Kevin Youkilis for a boat load of prospects. It's not collusion it's rebuilding.

After witnessing my obvious brilliance or my glaring ineptitude you should join my league anwway because I'm having a hard time filling it. If you want to play, please email me at 

Here are all the details

Oh yeah, it's $50 because nobody actively plays free leagues. But you already knew that.

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