I was a history major in college.  This was a terribly poor decision.  I realized after my first year in history/secondary education that I did not really enjoy history.  I was gonna be a coach.  My only A’s in college were coaching classes.  Why did I think that history was interesting?  Who would ever read stuff like that just for the fun of it?

As I’ve grown older, I realized that there is some history that I enjoy.  I just don’t enjoy ALL of it.   It’s all good, I was only a Social Studies teacher for two years before I took a different type of position.  The lesson is to never listen to your parents, I guess.

For a time, I felt the same about dynasty baseball leagues.

My favorite thing about fantasy sports is the day to day decisions.  Who to pick up and drop?  Stream that pitcher?  Who is this incredible writer for Razzball who has been covering the corner infield spots?  A dynasty is a different Itch to scratch, one that I’ve dabbled in the past.  Now it’s time to eat the entire dynasty donut.  I think I have the time to do it now and the motivation.  I filled out the email application already and took the leap.  But what makes this the league the cool sweet pool of water to jump in?

A Brief and Somewhat Accurate League History

This league is ten years old now.  A guy named Mike was hired as a data scientist in an MLB front office, like a real life actual baseball job.  Baseball jobs are not time friendly and due to personal reasons he had to pass up his dream job.  Mike, however, was afflicted with the baseball rash and decided to at least join a fantasy league to mimic the job he passed up.  Alas, Mike was unable to find one that satisfied his baseball brain and just decided to start one up himself. In a crazily fortuitous event, Mike has a similarly monosyllabically named brother Joe!  And they both liked baseball and started a league together in peace and harmony.  Mike and Joe made a baseball league baby.  My impression though is that Mike is the brains in the operation.  Joe was the muscle, the hitman if you will.

This was not true totally.  Mike started the league and got his brother Joe to help.  Another commish was recruited some time later giving the league 3 active commissioners.  A ProBoards page was set up with all of the various roster moves that need to be posted there (kinda a league office if you will.)

The initial league started with an auction and trying to fill 30 teams that were recruited on message boards that were not on ESPN.  This process has been streamlined a little bit and now applications are done via email.  I’m not at all surprised that finding new members and filling spots were the most difficult.  A 30 team dynasty league can be intimidating.  Real life factors can lead people to not spend the time needed to be competitive.  Patience is required and it’s not for the faint of heart.  At this point the league seems stable as only one team needed to be filled this offseason (they really need to fix that application, I mean, like, they got ME?  Might need some tweaks, y’all.)  Guys are invested and taking more ownership in the league.

Five years in the league was cast into crisis.  The entire financial system was changed in an effort to increase player turnover and free agency options.  I shouldn’t comment on this stuff since I haven’t gone through the free agency, but everyone I’ve asked seems to think it’s the cat’s meow, so who am I to disagree? From what I’ve observed too a lot of people went through a lot of conflicting emotions in the pandemic, and baseball had a lot of negative feelings attached to it.  4-5 owners had to be replaced, and the financial system was revamped.  This was fraught with peril!  I’m guessing, and probably wrong, that some left because of the upheaval and changes to the league, or just fell out of love with baseball for a bit.

After this, the league seems to really enjoy all of what’s going on.  Players in the league are responsible for a 40 man roster, salary cap, up to 60 prospects, Rule 5, a minor league free agent draft, a first year player draft, free agency with bids, extensions based on performance, trades, waiver wires, a trading block, call ups/demotions, etc.  Basically I have become a real life GM except with no compensation for my time or notoriety except for the scope this article may reach.

My First Transactions

To their credit this league has a trade committee.  In the past there was a Wild Wild West mentality of anything goes.  We are all consenting adults, as they say.  What Joe said was that he had to keep breaking kneecaps to owners for proposing and/or accepting offers that would alter the league too much.  What Joe found while pulling fingernails off people is that hope was gone in this, the deepest of deep leagues.  A trade committee of three rotating members evaluate every deal made.  This helps people like me who have to learn a lot about values.  I leaned on them for guidance as I made my necessary deals to cut salary.

Trade 1:

Yankees Get:

2B Edouard Julien $708,000

SP MacKenzie Gore $826,000

Rangers get:

SP Sonny Gray  $14,500,000

RP King, Michael $1,631,630
SP Doval, Camilo  $1,118,180

I did it Mom!  I’m under the salary cap!  The prize for me here was Edouard Julien, the second baseman for the Twins.  He’s going to be good anyway, but his OBP cleared .380 which is golden in an OBP league.  Second basemen are important to me.  This was the only position I had the arm strength to play for a bit there.  I like him and MacKenzie Gore as two long term assets for the Yankees (If I ever put Cubs, it’s because that’s my real life team and former dynasty team).  Gray simply didn’t fit my timeline.

I was pretty confident in this but soon realized that this is a different kind of league than I’m used to.  The trade committee mentioned that Camilo Doval was possibly an overpay, not enough to veto a deal but that I didn’t get enough value for a closer.  Looking around, yeah, closers are going to be hard to find and quite valuable.  Noted and checked to self.  It’s entirely possible that I’m not quite the savant that I thought I was.

But then, I pulled a doozy out of my keyster.

I traded Aaron Nola at 27 for this year for Shane MacClanahan, who is slightly below 3 next year and has three more years on the contract.  This trade is my huckleberry.  I save a ton of cash under the cap, which sets me up for whatever I want to do in the rest of the offseason.  Yes, I know that Mac is out for the season.  That’s fine, I have him for the next one too or as a valuable trade chip.  Nola went to a contender and will fill their void for an ace for another year.  I get an ace in two years.

The secondary effect here is that after trading Gray and Nola, I’ve picked a lane.  This is not going to be the year my name is risen up to the legends of glory in this league, I fear.  Losing two really good pitchers is going to be hard to make up.  That’s okay, though.

Next Steps

What’s my next step?  Well, I reckon I’m finna trade some more!  I’ll list some of my guys down below and what I”m thinking:

Luis Robert is only 10 for this season.  He’s a really good player and a good price.  Do I keep him as a cornerstone or do I try to move off of him before he gets expensive?

Marcel Ozuna is really cheap at 5 for this season.  He’s also old and had a career year last season.  I’m thinking he doesn’t fit a timeline and I’m trying to flip him for younger guys.

Alex Bregman is 20 for the next four seasons.  I’m in no hurry to deal this guy as he’s good, not expensive, and his timeline can still fit mine.  If I get a top prospect it would be hard or impossible to say no.  We’ll see what happens.

Some of my personal notes:

Be careful to not overpay for my favorite players.

Be careful to avoid toxic contracts, but not so careful that it cripples me.

Everyone with a regular role has value here.  Contracts are where the value is found.  Problem is everyone else knows this too so trading is going to be harder than I thought.

No need to be in any sort of hurry here though.  This is a slow burn not a race.

At this point I’m fifteen million below the cap.  That’s good.  From now on my choices are all for the long term health of the Yankee organization.

Next Steps

Continue trade talks

Figure out the Yankees farm system and sort through the best unowned prospects. We’re allowed free pickups of prospects from our franchise.  I need to do this like yesterday.  I know the Cubs system inside and out;  I don’t know anything about the Yankees.

Keep yapping on the Discord channel.  Leagues like this need the interaction I think to keep going.  Right now they’re talking about a busted Nationals pitcher and his contract issues.  Fun to connect that way and I’d suggest it for any league.  Just don’t do politics.  I was in one that did politics and five people left the league.  Just leave it to sports!

Start preparing who I want for free agency and their costs.  I will need a catcher, first baseman, shortstop, and some pitchers going forward just to field a roster.  Time to make like Run DMC and get tricky.

For sake of ease and reference, here is the roster I inherited. Budget again is $168 million.

C: Tyler Soderstrom .6
Nick Fortes .6
1B Garrett Cooper 18
Darick Hall .6
2B Brendan Rodgers .8
Zach McKinstry 1.2
SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa 8
3B Max Muncy 16
Alex Bregman 20
Brett Baty .65
Jean Segura 6
OF Jurickson Profar 6
Luis Robert 10
Alek Thomas .7
Jo Adell .6
Marcell Ozuna  5
Yonathan Daza .7
Mitch Haniger 11

Aaron Nola  27
Kenta Maeda 5
Sonny Gray 11
Alex Wood 5
Marcus Stroman 18
Nate Eovaldi 10
Jose Suarez 1.2

Camilo Doval 2.4
Ryan Pressly 9
Jose Leclerc 5

Key prospect bench: Alexander CanarioKevin Alcantara, Ty Madden