Cracking Down On Illegal Lineups in 2017

For 2017, I’d love to see the following two rule changes:

  1. Owners/teams with illegal lineups are highlighted in red text on the standings page (similar to the way players activity involved in a trade are highlighted in blue)

  2. Teams with an illegal lineup for > 72 consecutive hours do not accrue points beginning in 73rd hour, going forward.

  1. Seems doable.

  2. Doesn’t consider roto leagues, where “not accruing stats” may be favorable in specific circumstances. So probably won’t do anything along these lines.

Punishment on this front is such a fine line. For at least 2 years, ottoneu redirected owners who were over limits to the cut page. That resulted in “I want to be able to look at X so I can make decisions on who to cut”, so that was eased. Now it seems like there’s a scare going around about teams sitting illegal on purpose for long periods of time. Is this a prevalent and winning strategy? Do those teams never make lineup changes? Maybe the site is too easy on those owners? They can’t make trades, bid on auctions, change lineups… what can they do?

I like #1.

For #2, maybe it is a rule change with no code change? If the rules laid out something more specific than “at commish discretion” would that help, even if it was still at commish discretion? Something like,

“If a team is sitting with an illegal roster for 72+ hours, the commissioner should remove the most recently added player from their team. The commissioner should use discretion in cases where the offending owner was unaware of the situation, is out of town, or was otherwise prevented from taking action to remedy the situation.”

Would that at least make it easier for the commish to act strongly and make it more clear how serious this is?


I still prefer a solution that requires no action at all by the commissioner. I recognize the need to see lineups, standings, scoring, etc. when your roster is frozen because sometimes you need to make a calculated cut and need more information to do so (in fact, I’d have a strong preference for the site allowing you to see your lineup screen while illegal, but just eliminate the ability to change/adjust lineups while frozen). But I do think the punitive connection for this issue needs to be applied to scoring, or otherwise it doesn’t have enough teeth.

I don’t think applying a scoring penalty solves much, to be honest, since the teams that aren’t hurt by having their rosters locked probably don’t care about not accruing points.

The more I think about these issues the more I believe teams should be locked out of off-season moves until they are legal. Did you accumulate $600 in salary in 2016? Fine, you need to cut a couple hundred dollars worth of salary before you can make trades. Did you add 10 prospects at the end of the year to trade/keep and didn’t make cuts immediately? You need to make those cuts now or you can’t make offseason trades. I know I am probably in the minority here, but just wanted to make the argument that some of these issues are solved if we force teams to be under $400 and 40 roster spots in the offseason.


I am not a fan of this. It forces everyone to push decisions up earlier in the off-season which is going to lead to more bad decisions and fewer opportunities for off-season trading.

It also means that an owner who was a net exporter of loans could theoretically go super illegal at the end of the year but then be absolved of that cause they are still under $400. I have a couple teams with under $300 in salary. Those teams could take on $100+ in new contracts today, be way, way over the cap (due to loans and cap penalties) and then be legal after the season ends automatically. So you are closing the loophole in some cases, but not all.

After reading this again I think I would definitely support this change and clarification of enforcement.


That’s a good point Chad, I hadn’t thought about the teams with lower adjusted caps getting artificial relief with my suggestion. I think in season it’s relatively easy to enforce illegal rosters, where it gets tricky is during the final few days of the season, since the frozen roster penalty is not very meaningful.

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I would support a system change that required you to be legal in the off-season, but I would lock definition of legal on the last day of the year - it’s not 40/400, it’s 40+60 day guys and 400+/-loans and cap penalties and stuff.


Agree. I think @jjdouglas has been a huge proponent of this

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That would probably be ideal, just might be a little messy to track/communicate.

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I am not sure how complex the code would be, but a lot of this is relatively simple. loans and cap penalties niv has complete control over. The 60-day DL is definitely fuzzier, since it doesn’t really exist in the off-season and I am not sure how Niv’s data provider tracks it.

The solution there might be to just capture the relevant team roster limits and loans/cap penalties on the final day of the season, and those then become the offseason limits for that team.

Rather than focusing on how easy or hard something is to implement, you guys should think about how these changes would affect how owners will make moves down the stretch and thus if it is a good idea or not. Do not assume anything is simple to implement and do not assume anything is too hard to implement, just think about what speaks to the core nature of the game.

The only compelling notion I’ve seen in this thread is @chy924’s about the rule clarification that a commissioner could choose to implement or not, depending on if their league needs it.

if we are not worrying about ease of implementation, i think the best rule is the one we have just been talking about - you must be compliant with your end-of-season roster limits and cap situation to participate in off-season activities, just like you have to compliant with those rules during the season to participate in in-season activities. if your roster is illegal, you cannot: set lineups, bid in auctions, make trades, assign arbitration.

it’s actually not even a change in rules, per se, just a natural extension of the existing rule: if you are not legal, you cannot participate except to make cuts to get legal.

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That only handles the specific case of having an illegal roster at the very end of the regular season. Is that the only time the illegal rosters become a real problem?

i think it eliminates much of the incentive. Up until 8/31, even a bad team will want to trade. Through most of September, you would want to participate in auctions.

But assuming you are sitting at 50 guys on a 42 man limit or $430 on a $400 limit, what is the goal of doing that? Presumably it is to allow yourself to trade said players in the off-season or to give yourself more option value up until Jan 31. If you cannot make trades in the off-season at all, that is a big chunk of the value lost in keeping extra players.And I think most teams value participating in arbitration, as well.

If you can’t use anyone on your roster in trades, what is the real value in holding extra guys all off-season? I am not sure I see it.


Think I’ll throw in with the notion of blocking trades in the offseason if your roster is not 40/400 legal, or the trade you are making does not get it there. It confines the benefits of loans to the season they were made, and discourages end-of-season chicanery with adding players above the limit.

If an owner wants to hold onto guys until January 31st hoping for good injury news or a more favorable home ballpark, they can. Or they can even keep their extra assets until it’s time to make that first trade. But you have to experience some discomfort for the privilege of your overloaded roster.

I am not a fan of this because I think making trades is a valid part of the way you get down to a legal roster. An MLB team has until basically opening day to cut to 40 man and 25 man rosters, and whatever budget they have set. They can spend all off-season cutting, trading, signing, etc. to get there. Maybe the Indians don’t have room to keep Andrew Miller next year, but they don’t have to cut someone to get to a legal roster to be allowed to make moves.

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The typical Ottoneu dynamic is different, though. It’s usually contenders paying cheap players for expensive (but still potentially valuable) ones, to an owner that’s not charging any premium for the loan.

The Indians paid a premium to get Miller because he’s affordable on his current deal. They’ll get a supplemental for him, but they were in no position to pile up a bunch of guys on $10M+ contracts and then get to trade them in the offseason.

40/400 in the offseason may be too restrictive, but as has been noted, being able to add a bunch of marginal surplus guys that can still be traded before the next season is hardly selling out your future. You can recycle your short term assets season to season in most leagues, and stay on top.