Friday, July 5, 2013

CFCL Through The Years: The Trade Deadline

As the weather heats up in July, so does the trading action in the CFCL. More trades get completed in July than in any other month of the season (in some years, more than all the other months of the season combined).

The reason is simple … the deadline for making trades during the season comes on August 1. Owners have had three months to access their teams’ potential for the season and are starting to make the decision about whether to play for the current season or the future. Rebuilder teams are more willing to give up players in the final year of their contract or high-salaried stars they likely won’t keep the following year. Meanwhile, contenders spend July offering their prospects and low-priced keepers, hoping to acquire as many of those cast-offs as possible.

The in-season trade deadline hasn’t always been August 1, though. It’s actually bounced around quite a bit over the years, sometimes with an interesting twist or two.  Usually we followed whatever trading deadline rules were set in the official Rotisserie League Constitution as published in the annual Rotisserie League Baseball book, though in recent years the CFCL has steered its own course.

Here’s a look at how the CFCL in-season trade deadline has evolved over the years:

1984-1985 June 15
This date coincided with the Major League Baseball trading deadline at the time (according to the Rotisserie League Baseball Constitution).

The thing I find amazing about this deadline is that in those pre-stat service, do the stats by hand days, there were only a handful of standings reports published before the deadline hit. And given the delay in waiting for NL stats to be printed in The Sporting News, compiling the stats, photocopying the standings, and snail-mailing them out, CFCL owners who were trying to hammer out a deadline deal to set their team up for a pennant run were doing so based on standings that were probably two weeks old.

It’s no wonder there was a relatively small number of in-season deals those first couple years.
1986 July 31
MLB pushed its trade deadline back a month and a half, and the newly-instituted CFCL Executive Committee voted to follow suit.

The extra 45 days or so to work on trades, and the entrance of Bob Monroe and his Bald Eagles into the CFCL greatly increased the number of trades in 1986 compared to the two previous years.
1987-1990 End of the All Star Break/Game & August 31
The 1987 edition of the Rotisserie League Baseball book put an interesting spin on trading– establishing two separate deadlines:

1) Between the end of the Draft until Noon on the Thursday of the All Star Break, teams could make trades without restriction (as long as they complied with the positional requirements).

2) From the end of the All Star Break until August 31, trading was allowed ONLY between contiguous teams. That means if you wanted to make a trade after the All Star Break, it needed to be with the team directly above you or below you in the most recently published standings. I assume the Roto League did this to allow late season trading while also reducing the chances of contenders fattening their rosters at the expense of the bottom dwellers.

In 1989 and 1990, they tweaked the rule a little, changing the first deadline from Noon on Thursday of the All Star Break to the last out of the All Star Game. I’m not sure of the reason for setting the deadline on a nebulous and moving target such as the last out of a particular game … maybe just to add an element of randomness and extra excitement to the proceedings?
1991-1992 July 31 & August 31
The Rotisserie League kept the two trade deadlines, but pushed the first one back to July 31 (or the first Tuesday following the 31st), with trading during August again being limited to contiguous teams in the standings.
1993-2000 August 31
In 1993 the Rotisserie League did away with all anti-dumping measures they had put in place in previous seasons, including the contiguous trading rule.
2001-2002 July 31
By 2001 the annual Rotisserie League Baseball book had become one long commercial for the services of fantasy baseball megalomaniac John Benson (he had taken over editing and publication of the book in 1998). That was the year I stopped buying the book, and so was the year we stopped getting updates on changes to the official Rotisserie League Constitution and started doing our own thing.

In 2001, we elected to synchronize the CFCL trading deadline with the deadline in MBL – July 31.
2003-present Noon, August 1
During the 2002 season, CFCL owner Bruce Ellman pointed out that CFCL teams could conceivably lose significant players to the AL because of an MLB deadline deal, and if our deadline was at the same date & time as MLB’s the CFCL teams wouldn’t have the opportunity to replace those players via trade.

The Executive Committee agreed and set the CFCL trade deadline for Noon on August 1, the day after the MLB trading deadline. This allows CFCL teams to fully digest what transpired during MLB’s deadline and scramble to make moves in response if needed.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a look at some of the winners and losers at each season’s trade deadline.

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