Cut Strategy - Ever a reason to... just cut?

Hi - curious if anyone could explain (or just say there is no reason…) if there is ever a situation where it makes sense to just cut an expensive player mid-year if you don’t intend on keeping them.

I have a $42 Giolito who given the rest of my roster is likely a victim of cuts in the offseason. I’m also not likely to compete for the title at the end of the year, so I’m actively shopping him to contenders who could use a rental. While I’m not expecting a ton, I’m also not getting much/any traction at the moment.

With this as just one example, my general question: is there ever a case where it makes sense to drop a player like this midseason to open up cap space, even if there is no immediate subsequent move that I intend on making? In other words, I would drop Giolito - he’ll either get claimed or not, but definitely reauctioned - and so I’ll be rid his $42 within a week. But then do nothing with that. Is there any point to this?

First year playing, so haven’t done this/seen this, and was curious if there were any thoughts.

The disadvantage is the potential that you cut Giolito, he clears waivers, and someone gets a really good price on Giolito such that he’s a great keeper for 2022 (since the bidding would start at $21).

On the other hand, a benefit to just cutting a high priced player is that it might induce someone to make cuts to afford him (either to grab him on waivers or win him in a free agent auction). In one of my leagues, when Trout got hurt, he got immediately cut by a team in contention. I suspects that their expectations was that they’d clear cap space and grab some nice keepers who got cut when the team that won Trout had to clear salary cap. It didn’t exactly work out (IIRC, he just wound up with $12 Plesac, as the others got claimed before they got to him).

But anyway, I would always weigh the best offer you can get for a player against the benefit of clearing the cap space and roster spot. Sometimes that’s the better course of action rather than giving up a loan to move an expensive guy. For example, I’ve got a $22 Greinke in a 5x5 league where I’m really deep in SP that I might wind up doing that with (I only acquired him because he was part of an offer that I really liked and just wanted to accept that offer). He’s definitely not a keeper at $22 and I could potentially put the cap and roster space to better use once the Rule IV guys sign. Worst case if I cut him, I free up $11 and get him back for $11 for 2022. But it’s much more likely that I’d get the full $22 shortly after cutting him.

You could always try to sell him with a give back loan, i.e. sell for 42 with a loan of ~8-12. That would at least create a better chance of seeing him at auction next year vs cutting him and somebody keeping him for 23.

If you have no immediate need for the $ or roster spot, it is probably most logical to hold the player until the trade deadline.

I will say that prior to cutting a player that surely will get claimed or reauctioned, I strongly believe that it should be made known you are shopping the player (and will otherwise cut him eventually) - either via the trade block or the message board. It’s infuriating being near the top of the standings and a team out of contention randomly drops a player that will help another competing team. It’s potentially a gift to the teams lower in the standings.

I realize you are asking from the perspective of the team doing the cutting - and to that, I would just say that cutting the player after the deadline should yield similar results to cutting them before (either they get claimed or reauctioned). Holding until then at least gives you the opportunity to trade with a team higher in the standings who is willing to part with some additional value.

Edit: After I posted, I realized holding said player also brings ‘tanking’ into consideration. If you do not plan to compete the current year, holding the would-be cut player out of your lineup (with the intention of cutting him later) could drop you in the standings and make your eventual waiver claims of other dropped players more valuable.

I’m going to go against the other opinions here. I think teams out of contention often trade away studs with big loans for too little of a return. If you aren’t getting any traction in a decent return for him, cutting him can make a lot of sense. However, you do need to pay attention to how much cap space other teams have. If someone is sitting there with $30 in empty cap space, then they could easily win him and you’d see no subsequent cuts. You want to try and cut him at a time when no team has a ton of cap space available. The other good option that was mentioned above is to trade him for a small return with no or minimal loan. Then he’s still overpriced and you have a shot at bidding on him whenever he gets cut (in-season or at the 2022 draft)


I would agree with walkerpilot here. A huge amount of cap room is often more valuable than trading a high-end player away for a few non-elite prospects. This allows you to scoop up future league cuts and aggressively take chances on potential breakout players as the year goes on and hopefully find a few breakout keepers. Plus, as alluded to, ideally you would do this if nobody in your league has a significant amount of cap space, and so the winner will have to make significant cuts of their own that you will be well positioned to jump on. It’s a bit of a gamble, but it can often be the preferable move (I cut a $50 Yelich earlier in the year for example).