Franchise Tag Concept (League 100)

While several leagues consider the “coupon” system this winter, I’ve heard some discussion recently about another very interesting “carrot” concept designed to encourage season-long engagement and participation. I will defer to @joecatz @Miguel @hernandez17 @doorbot @oltarzewskt1 @BuzzKidA @owensurett35 @jfwiii @swindaman3 @pmacho in League 100 to explain details and expected results, but it sounds pretty cool. With more and more leagues considering adding incentives, a discussion of the new Franchise Tag system here could benefit others.

Coming up on the end of the season I asked around the league for ideas on how to make the league better. We already have a no trade deadline clause, but I figured to ask what else we could do. Joe pitched the concept, (the whole thing is his idea and I hope he chimes in) how he got to it I am not sure, but I believe he borrowed it from current NFL rules.

The concept is to freeze the prices of a few assets from being allocated arbitration dollars after inflation. Say you have Javy Baez at $8, and you put a franchise tag on him, nobody can allocate arbitration dollars to him. (The commish would keep a lost of players with tags and post it for everyone in the league to know who they are) The idea is to give a few tags to teams in the middle of the pack and help them keep surplus items that will help them rebuild faster without affecting the finances in terms of lowering the price of a player from the previous year.

How those assets are selected was the challenge. We figured points accrued as the entry level for awarding tags (14k for 3 tags was an earlier proposition, and then less tags the more points you earned, with different brackets) but days after tossing ideas around, we reached the conclusion that tags should be awarded for participating as well. We wanted people to finish their innings and games played as the basis for earning tags, and then points accrued for how many tags they earned. After discussing for days, and with the help of Justin getting us data from 2015, we found that 15.5k was a more reasonable entry level for earning tags in terms of points accrued, and we arrived at our curRent numbers:

18,500 ­ AND BEYOND 1 tag
17,000—18,499.9 2 tags
15,500—16,999.9 3 tags

From our proposal:

This is the criteria for owners to achieve Franchise Tags:

  1. At the end of the season (beginning with the 2017 season), each owner
    must reach at least 1450 innings pitched, and average more than 150 Games Played per position (resulting in a grand total of 1800 total games or higher)*, in order to be eligible to receive Franchise Tags.
    Teams should aim to max out all their games and innings. This will ensure that a team that falls short of the maximum should still fall within the accepted limits of 1800 games and 1450 innings. Owners should be wary of aiming for the lower end of each threshold, which may result in falling short and being disqualified from franchise tags if an unexpected situation further depletes their team.
  2. To be eligible for a franchise tag, a player must be rostered prior to the annual auction and stay on your roster the entire year. Players added via auction, trade, waiver wire or reacquired after being dropped are not eligible. Players may not be tagged by the same owner in consecutive seasons.
  3. Franchise Tags will take place after league inflation, and prior to arbitration.

We are pretty pumped about this, as we think these awards won’t screw the finances of the league for starters, but help players get from the bottom to the top much quicker.


Thanks for sharing this. This idea is growing on me. I really like it.

Q: why would a player I draft in the 2017 player auction not be eligible to tagged? I would think you’d want to reward owners for good pre-season research and auction “skill”. The annual auction is arguably the single best avenue to setting the direction of your franchise. Curious to hear from @joecatz on this.

Cool enough idea that my plagiarize this for a 2017 league of my own if @joecatz approves. Would be cool to have multiple leagues trying out this concept so the sample size of impacts is bigger.

Interested in feedback from @everyone

thats a very simple answer @luckystrikes. the “preauction” deadline guarantees that ANY PLAYER eligible for a franchise tag has been through both arbitration AND allocation at their current salaries at least once. the player also cant be traded the following season, and can’t be tagged in consecutive seasons.

so, say I sat on seager for three years and owned him for $7 last year. I can tag him, but I cant freeze a $7 Seager for three years in a row. but more importantly, if I TRADE for a $7 seager, mid season, its a full season and 1/2 before I can lock his salary.

the key to the entire concept for me, stemmed from wanting to come up with a way to reward:

  1. consistent participation over a full season
  2. patience

while also stimulating

  1. a reason not to tank
  2. the ability to think twice about making a really bad trade.

for me, the franchise tag concept was kind of simple, in that, I think people underestimate how much they’re really messing up values with coupons. Allocation and arbitration are designed to work the way they do for a reason, and the tags allow teams to temporarily freeze assets, without also artificially adjusting the amount of money in a pool, or inflation in their leagues. I also liked the games played requirements, frankly as a de facto way to enforce the unenforceable roster rules regarding minor league players. You would be foolish if you played in this league not to set your lineups.

the point levels and games played concept vs actual finished standings also, IMO make it very difficult to actually get the tags. 1450 innings is not easy, if you arent engaged all season long. most leagues only have between 5-7 teams that hit that level. but frankly, if you ensure you hit your innings, your set.


So @joecatz I’m digging your Franchise Tag concept. I like it, and to your point, for those considering implementing coupons, this is an alternative way to introduce incentives without changing the basic economics of Ottoneu.

With your blessing I’d like to take this idea and run with it, but I think I’d make a few tweaks.

First and foremost, one of the most important indicators of season-long participation by active owners is their willingness to be fully engaged on the waiver wire. To address your rule above, I think I’d tweak it to say: “Any player not traded or cut is eligible for a franchise tag”, which basically gives an owner the flexibility to “farm” a player via the auction or waivers (which rewards scouting/player analysis, etc.). I’d want owners to be fully engaged because if they “hit gold” on a $1 guy like Edwin Diaz in late May (when no one else was the wiser), that player should be eligible to be tagged. If it’s a true “franchise” idea, you should be able to tag any player you never give up on (trade/cut) - a player you “develop”, so to speak.

Second, I think I’d remove the restriction on back to back years. In fact, I think I’d remove any restriction on term entirely. Since you’re only giving a max of three total tags to hand out, I don’t see the harm in allowing a team to “protect” a $7 Seager in back to back to back years ($9, $11, $13, etc. after annual inflation) since nearly every team has at least one or two great surplus contracts and you’d want to reward a team for having the foresight for “signing” on long term with a specific player (there’s some risk here, too, if owners choose to tag the “wrong” player, like a prospect). If my ability to tag a player is eliminated entirely if I give up on (trade or cut) my player (above), I’d at least want the option to build around that player for a much longer period of time than one year. I don’t see much risk at all in leaving the amount of times you can tag a player open if you’re limiting the number of max tags to 3 (which still must be earned), and the reward is greater engagement since I know I can built around a specific player for multiple season (and it takes multiple great contracts to build a winning team, anyway).

Just my initial thoughts…I love the idea and would consider joining or creating a league with similar rules to compare against a coupon league long term.


so heres my problem with what you’re proposing, Trey.

on the first part:

  1. if they AREN’T ENGAGED on the wire, and they don’t hit the limits, its a moot point. If they DO hit on a guy like Diaz, great, but the point isn’t to reward someone for being patient in an auction, or getting lucky on a waiver pick up. its to reward someone for long term success, and I was very adamant about the idea that a players current salary should be touched by all 11 teams or at least given the opportunity to do so before eligibility. I designed this specifically to avoid a player like Edwin Diaz being a $3 player in year 2.

  2. FWIW, I think three tags is way too many. I agreed to it in 100 with the point caveats, after some discussion, but again, this is not designed to artificially work against arbitration and allocation (which is what coupons do) its designed to work WITH those systems. the restrictions, IMO are essential to the program working properly. Without restrictions, in this league Mike trout would still be a $29 player.allowing this to happen with roughly 20 -30 players every year would be a very bad thing. Trout went from 17 to 19 to 32, to 46 to 48 to 52, etc… in this league. The idea is to DELAY that $19 to $32 year or the $32 to $46 year by one season. not to add roughly $40 in Surplus to someones roster.

I also went back and looked at historical increases of player salaries in 4 of my leagues. To use the Mookie Betts example:

$1 pick up. moved to $3, and upped to $5. (year one)
$5 to $7 and upped to between $15 and $22 in all of my leagues last year. thats the year you pull the tag on him. or maybe you wait until this year.

Its the SECOND YEAR that you really want to protect someone anyway…

Now imagine you have ONE TAG and own him and Bryant. you know you can tag bryant next season…

I gave this a lot of thought Trey, and honestly, your arguments for the changes are precisely the reasons why I implemented and insisted on them in the proposal. This isn’t a coupon, and its not a permanent thing. its not designed to artificially stagnate a stud player at $7, or $17… the games played and IP requirements already force a team to roster more major league talent, as it is. they’ll play the wire.

So while I can’t stop you or anypone else from changing the rules and guidelines, I would caution you and anyone else to resist the urges to make changes to a system I put a lot of thought and time into because it doesnt fit your particular thought process. I hope that came across the right way. Appreciate you bringing this to peoples attention, but i firmly believe that the restrictions and auction timelines are essential to the system working long term.


one last comment on this. I would not have qualified for a franchise tag in 4 of my six leagues due to games played or IP.
In most of my leagues, I have less than 10 rosterable players that this tag would be applicable to. I suspect, that in 100, That will be very different this season.

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I think I like it how we have it set up as far as back to back years. One year is enough in terms of protection, I think. All players should be subject to arbitration at some point for the leagues to be fair. I don’t agree with controlling the price of a star for too long the same way I don’t think players salaries should be less from one year to the next. Also, I agree with Joe in that a lot of thought was put into this, and would warn all to be careful with coming up with changes. We still don’t know how this system will affect our league as we will implement it next year.

One last thing… Credit also goes to Tom, who helped shape things up after the first round of proposals got declined by the league and he helped come up with the brackets, number of tags and criteria to earn them.

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First of all, not proposing changes for League 100. Just brainstorming out loud. You guys have a good thing going so I’m looking forward to following along and observing.

I was talking with @joecatz off line and I don’t think I was clear on the small change I was thinking of. If the goal of the “tags” is to keep 12 owners engaged over the course of a full season instead of just 3, I think it will work well. However, one (positive) consequence of increased engagement is (should be) a much higher rate of league transactions (trades, waiver, free agent signings). We saw this happen in @Brinksmanship and it was great: when everyone is active (hitting IP, GP, and points thresholds, for coupons in that case), transactions go way up (I’d even argue a total transaction count is probably the single best indicator of a healthy league because increased transaction counts should also increase communication).

So, if transactions increase because of better, full-season participation, one other (positive) consequence is that the free agent player pool is going to be thinner for longer than most normal Ottoneu leagues. Again, this is a good thing, but when you’re setting up a system that requires owners to hit 1,450 IP and 93% of GP to get the “carrots”, you have to realize that it’s going to be that much harder to hit them if the free agent pool is so much thinner. These things are correlated.

Assuming I’m right in the economic impact above, the only big change I think I’d be looking for in this Franchise Tag concept is the opportunity to be rewarded for “discovering” valuable talent from the free agent pool in-season. As written for LG100, it sounds like the only players eligible to be tagged are those that remain on your roster for a full season (passing through both inflation and arb). Instead, I think I’d want to open up the opportunity to “tag” a (potentially valuable) player that I am smart/skilled/lucky enough to “discover” mid-season, since so often those are really the players that make or break a tight race (which should also be a positive consequence of these incentives).

That’s why I used Edwin Diaz as my example: he was basically unowned in Ottoneu exiting 2016 auctions, and didn’t get his first MLB IP until June (though some “smart” owners stashed him in early May). He didn’t get his first Hold until June 11th, and his first Save until August 2nd. Yet, he was a huge boon to many teams in the 2nd half of the season. He’s exactly the type of player I’d want to be rewarded for “discovering” early by making him eligible for a tag, but it doesn’t appear he’d be eligible since he was added post-auction and hasn’t experienced arbitration yet.

Again, this is a long winded brainstorm, but I know I would be motivated by a system that also rewards me for being the first to own a particular player out of the in-season free agent pool. As a “franchise” implies, I’m incentivized to hit my thresholds all season so I can sign a guy like Evan Longoria: signed super early for a big discount, with the team taking a risk that he breaks out and becomes the face of the franchise.

I’m honestly not sure what the right number of tags would be per team, but what you guys created seems very reasonable.

Incentives (coupons, tags) are catching on because by design a winner-takes-all system leaves at least 8 or 9 owners disengaged by mid-season (and maybe as many as 11 in some leagues).

In my mind:
Incentives (coupons, tags) = :chart_with_upwards_trend: engagement = :chart_with_upwards_trend: participation = :chart_with_upwards_trend: transactions = :chart_with_upwards_trend: competition = :chart_with_upwards_trend: fun (especially when you have a near perfect foundation like Ottoneu already offers)

Kudos to you guys in @100 for taking on this concept. It’s a good one.

(appreciate you guys indulging my brainstorm here in the community because I’m sure there are a handful of other leagues discussing very similar changes and I imagine they would benefit from this)

What’s great about this system is we could change that next year if 12 owners felt we made that mistake when it comes time to tag. We can also drop or add the number of tags and adjust the points (which may still happen as we discuss this further)

We set the goals high and put the restrictions out there on purpose, because we didn’t want this to be a trophy everyone got for playing. It’s designed intentionally to make you work for it.

There were 10 teams in 649 that hit 1450 IP. No other league I played in, including champs, had more than 6 teams that hit.

I think I would rather add 1 coupon between 14,500 and 15,500 points to ensure that the bottom tier teams set a lineup than adjust who they can give them to because they find a gem on the wire. That’s not skill, btw, that’s luck. For every Edwin Diaz and Aldemys Diaz There’s another player who doesn’t matter after two weeks.

You bring up a good point about the IP. I wonder if @eamuscatuli could tell us how many leagues had 10 or more teams hit 1,450 IP in 2016. I bet very few…

Not many. the wire and free agent availability was lacking in 649 yet it had the most innings by a long shot of any league I played in. That’s a result of people simply being engaged. Nothing more. Nothing less. In 100, we had 10 teams that would have hit the points for tags, but only 7 of those teams had enough innings, and only 5 of those 7 hit games played. THAT was the real determine factor. Again, this was not designed as a way to reward people for finishing in 8h place. This was designed to take the five owners (myself included) who half assed it once they were out of it a reason not to.

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Of 1,328 total FGPTS teams in 2016, it looks like:

  • 526 hit 1,450 or more IP (40%)
  • 843 hit 1,800 GP or more (64%)

I’ll dig into more data soon.

As far as I can tell the answer is one, and only one, league that had 10+ teams hit 1,450 IP, and that was #649.

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Hope you guys in @100 don’t mind but I linked to your Franchise Tag idea in a post today after taking some time to dig through 2016 data. Big takeaway for me is that while I fully buy into the high IP and GP thresholds you guys have set, the “history” of most leagues through the years suggests it may still just be the teams at the top that can meet those requirements, so the carrots could be top heavy.

As @eamuscatuli showed, I think @Brinksmanship may have been the only league last year to hit those high marks up and down the standings (regardless of finish), so at least there’s some precedent. It really makes Ottoneu a different (better…or st least more fun) game when everyone is pushing hard to throw every IP and play every game possible.

I saw that earlier…Thanks for the shout out.

Not sure if the “carrots” will be top heavy…One of the things that people in the league knocked around was the possibility of just starting pitchers in bad matchups to meet innings…if you start a bad 5 inning matchup, there will be low or negative points, so even if that’s the case you are fighting to get to a bracket in order to unlock Franchise Tags.

Teams at the top of the standings only get one Franchise Tag anyway, so in essence, this incentive still only focuses on helping owners who break the 15.5k points, max out and stay in low bracket.

As an exercise, hopefully not messing up any manual arithmetic…

Only one team failed to make 1,800 games played in 649 (ahem, @eamuscatuli), so that means 10 franchise tag qualifiers based on activity thresholds.

Three teams had 18.5K+ points, so 1 tag each.

Five teams had between 17K and 18.5K, so 2 tags each.

Two teams had between 15.5K and 17K, so three tags each.

By team, using the franchise tag on the highest current surplus asset(s) according to the Super Early Surplus Calculator:

WAR Horse: Kendrys Morales, $10 - Team Total Savings = $10, Remaining Surplus = $11
Plenipotentiary to the Stars: Steve Pearce, $14 - Team Total Savings = $14, Remaining Surplus: $47
Chin Musicians: Jackie Bradley Jr., $9 - Team Total Savings = $9, Remaining Surplus: $42
Siamese Dream: Trevor Story, $15, DJ Lemahieu, $12 - Team Total Saving = $27, Remaining Surplus = $92
London Silly Nannies: Trea Turner, $21, Robbie Ray, $18 - Team Total Savings = $39, Remaining Surplus = $60
Jokerit: Justin Verlander, $10, Matt Kemp, $9 - Team Total Savings = $19, Remaining Surplus = $20
High & Inside: Rich Hill, $23, Alex Bregman, $12 - Team Total Savings = $35, Remaining Surplus = $69
PTBNL: Carlos Beltran, $14, Brandon Moss, $10 - Team Total Savings = $24, Remaining Surplus = $34
In You d’Arnaud, Now You Know: David Phelps, $10, Stephen Cardullo, $6, Chris Carter, $6 – Team Total Savings = $22, Remaining Surplus = $20
Sir-Plus None: Jameson Taillon $13, Evan Gattis, $8, Wilson Ramos, $5 – Team Total Savings = $26, Remaining Surplus = $12
Brinksmanship Credit Union – Total Surplus = $41
Raleigh Capitals – Total Surplus = $119

Total Franchise Tag Savings = $226
Total Arb-Eligible Surplus = $567

(Note: My Savings+Remaining Surplus sum here is $12 higher than the calculator’s total for the league, so I did make an error somewhere, but not significant enough for me to go back and figure out.)

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I personally don’t think the games & innings will be an issue. When trying I’ve never had an issue getting to both sets. Now my ppi & ppg may be low if I’m in the bottom half but if there is incentive to set my line-up everyday, I will do so even if I am in/out.