First – no – this is not a political article (well not like country politics – just league politics).
Now that we got that out of the way, vetoing and vote decision-making is a part of any fantasy league (well at least those that have trading), and so, inevitably, whether a trade should be vetoed or processed will come up. Fantrax (and for my knowledge most other sites) have a couple of options when you set up the league.
Fantrax (under commissioner – league setup – transactions & periods – trades – trade voting system) allows you to select four options for trade voting with, per Fantrax, the reason being “To ensure fairness and help prevent collusion, your league may implement a voting system on all trades, allowing trades to be vetoed.” And this is exactly what this is for – to ensure fairness and prevent collusion – so how do we do that and how should we think about it?
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These are the four options:
Select this option if your league does not use a voting system on trades. Trades will be executed immediately after they have been accepted by all teams involved.
All team owners except the ones involved in the trade will have the right to vote against a trade after it has been accepted by all teams involved. If the minimum # of objections are met within the # of days selected, that trade will be vetoed.
Commissioner (Private leagues only)
Select this option if only you, the Commissioner, will have the power to veto any trade, after it has been accepted by all teams involved. You will have an unlimited timeframe to either approve or reject the trade. If/when the commissioner approves it, it will get executed immediately.
Owners & Commissioner (Private leagues only)
This option works the same way as the Owners voting system, with the exception that if the required # of objections are met, you will make the final decision on whether to approve or reject the trade. This will allow you to only have to review trades that the other owners have deemed unfair.
There are pros and cons of each of these options.
None is “clean” in a very hands-off sort of way in that a trade is made – it’s processed – done. While this has the advantage of being done quickly (and making it easy if you have a lazy/hands-off commish) even MLB has a trade approval process (you rarely hear about it since it rarely comes up but it’s there). So, this of course leaves no room for vetoes – just complaining in your league chat (more on this later).
Owners is one of the more complicated options – leaving every trade up to a league vote (generally within a time frame). However, just as a trade could happen with collusion, there can also be people who vote for or, more commonly, against a trade, not because it isn’t a “fair” or “equitable” enough deal, but because the trade isn’t good for their team. If you’re in a roto league and fighting a tight battle for first with one or two other teams and one of those teams makes a fair trade where they send some great young prospects for some elite older players who will help them now, you, and others, may vote against the trade simply because if the trade goes through that will hurt your shot at bringing home the championship and letting that flag fly forever. Moreover, this makes it very confusing as to what a standard for vetoing a trade would be. Largely I’m really not a fan of this option.
Owners & Commissioner (we’ll come back to just commissioner shortly) helps to counter some of the problems of the owner vote, as the commissioner can still approve the deal even if the vote says not to. However, I do think that this leads to the commissioner really needing to present a convincing case as to why or why not he or she is approving (or not) a deal if the decision goes contrary to the league vote. This also creates a problem if (as in most leagues) the commissioner is also playing in the league allowing that power to be abused.
Commissioner is by far my preferred method of approving trades. It allows the commissioner to ensure that trades are legal and also double-check what is going on in the league.
However, the main reason I prefer commissioner is because of my approach to trading and vetoing. Moreover, this is important if there are trades that are not allowed in the league per the constitution/rules as pre-stated. So, for example, in almost all of the dynasty leagues that I run, managers are not allowed to trade back-to-back first-round picks. So, one of the things I need to check in my league as I prepare to process trades is to make sure that that rule is not violated by the trade with a quick check.
Additionally, one of the important things with commissioner-only is whether the commissioner is a member of the league or not? Since I only play in a few leagues I also commish, when considering trades and to whether to approve a trade or not, there isn’t a bit of strategic preference for me. Now, if you trust your commissioner then I still think this is the best option as long as they do not abuse this power since if they want to, there is really little recourse. So, this should be considered when forming a league and when thinking about the rules for a league. AND there must, must, must be clear rules about what is allowed in trades, especially in dynasty or keeper formats.
This is the language of vetos in my leagues:
- I will not veto trades unless there is clearly collusion/backroom dealings, make your own mistakes
- Exception: I reserve the right if an owner is making multiple trades that the league cannot understand and the rationale is deemed illogical, I may reverse the trade. More likely, the owner(s) will be addressed, and the next steps forward will be discussed
The other day on Twitter our own Eric Cross was asked about a trade being veto-worthy and he correctly told them it wasn’t – and I chimed in with this:
┻┳| •.•) only collusion makes a trade
┳┻|⊂ﾉ Veto worthy
So, in my leagues, trades do not get vetoed, no matter how awful they seem, unless they violate league rules. And I’ve seen some bad trades running 30 leagues and having commished or co-commished leagues for years.
A few years ago, in a league I was the co-commissioner in, two teams made two trades to each other that started a deep conversation on vetoing them. These were the trades made in ‘19:
- Mike Clevinger & Brad Boxberger for Trey Wingenter and Marcus Walden
- Trea Turner for A.J. Puk and Kevin Newman
Ya – they were really bad then too.
But – the commissioner and I talked to both managers and it was clear that this wasn’t collusion and the manager who got fleeced in both deals legitimately thought they were even deals. But in that league, as in all of mine, the rule is only veto the trade in case of collusion.
Some final considerations
A few considerations within this rule or possible objections:
What if this drastically changes the competitive balance of the league?
This is certainly a concern, especially if one team is just making themselves not competitive at all (I’m thinking here mainly of dynasty leagues) and have no future as a franchise. This is certainly a big concern. However, if a manager is making these sorts of trades then there needs to be a larger conversation with them. First, as commissioner, you need to figure out why these trades are being made. Does the manager think these are good and fair trades that help their team? Does the manager actually have a plan that you just didn’t see (this is again much easier if you as the commissioner aren’t in the league since them telling you doesn’t give you some competitive advantage)? And are they willing to learn and grow?
I think almost every manager as they grow will make some bad trades – I know I did – but you have to learn from them and not continue to make them. If a manager just has no clue what they are doing but is convinced they do and won’t learn and continues to make bad trades, then the concern for a competitive league starts and ends with the manager, and perhaps their tenure in the league needs to end if they are not the caliber of manager needed in that league. Perhaps a manager got out of their depth in terms of the type or depth of league too quickly and needs a simpler or shallower league to start. There could be any sorts of considerations here, but a manager is the main point of the conversation and their growth as a manager to make a league competitive and fun for everyone. I am a large proponent of helping managers grow, be it in that league or not, so that they can be the best manager possible.
What if a new manager is getting taken advantage of?
My answer to this is pretty much the same as above. Talk to them and make sure they had good reasons and are figuring it out. If a manager takes over a team often that leads to a flurry of moves as they make the team their own, but as a commissioner, you also have to make sure that they know what they are doing and not getting left out to dry.
How is this different in a redraft league or a dynasty league?
This obviously changes in a dynasty v. redraft. In a dynasty league, you have different competition windows and much more like MLB teams can trade (or not) for contention. In a redraft league, if you’re out of it, there is no next year with that same team, just a new draft. This does make considering trades in that format more interesting since you would hope that trades are made for everyone to compete, and not some team that is no longer competing just selling off pieces because they don’t care or to help a friend win (note the later would be collusion). The best way to counter this is probably to make some sort of reward/incentive so that teams in the bottom have a reason to keep contending beyond pride even if it is clear the team cannot win.
Finally… the complaining. There have been a number of trades made in leagues I run this year that have caused consternation and there have been too many times where I’m not looking at things for only 30 minutes (or God forbid multiple hours) and come back to find 500 messages in the group chat. Managers complaining about trades made can happen because they don’t like the trade and it helps their opponent, it can happen because of how they perceive the value of players, or for other reasons. The biggest thing here, if you are a manager and object to a trade and feel the need to voice said objections – then object to the trade (preferably to the commish, not the league chat) – do NOT insult or attack the person who made the trade. There is no need to be a jerk or mean. Ever.
Additionally – you have no clue what managers are doing. I’ve seen trades that I don’t understand done in industry leagues between two managers who I know are very very sharp and so clearly I’m just missing what one of them is seeing, and I’ve talked to plenty of managers after they’ve made trades I don’t understand and they’ve shown me why. Sometimes I completely understand the reasoning and it makes sense – other times I don’t understand it at all – but I can at least see the logic in their reasoning and it’s their trade and their team.
Like I said in the Twitter conversation – vetos should only happen in cases of collusion. The only other time I will veto a trade is when it violates a league rule and shouldn’t have happened for those reasons. I’ve only had to do that a few times and I believe that every time that that has happened the two teams modify the deal a little bit and make the trade still work where it is legal. Commissioners and owners are not responsible for making sure other managers make trades that they like, it is up the managers to run their team as they see fit, so if you are a commissioner be wise in your decisions and be clear in your constitution about what will and will not be allowed in trades, especially if you play in the league, to keep leagues competitive and fun. Trading is one of the best things about fantasy baseball (and I imagine all fantasy sports), so keep it good, competitive, and fun. And as the deadline nears in most fantasy leagues at either end of this month or next – go make some deals!
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