The LaRoche Rule

Adam LaRoche
Image by SD Dirk via Flickr

Recently, Adam LaRoche was traded back to the National League after spending less than 2 weeks in the American League. As you would know, this does not happen often, and, inadvertently set up a fun scenario in the two fantasy leagues I play in – one auction, one draft.

In the auction league, I lost LaRoche in the trade to the AL for minor league players, and picked up someone for the empty spot. I noticed it appeared that LaRoche’s stats would have accumulated if I kept him on my roster. In normal practice for a trade to the AL, I should have FA’d (free agent) him, but the stats situation made me curious. I checked the posted rules, and confirmed there were none requiring me to FA LaRoche. Next, I attempted to reserve him, which the league settings allowed! At this point, I am waiting for the Commish to slap my little hand and FA him, but I guess he did not notice.
(Free agent or FA is term used to release all control of the player from your team. Reserve allows you to keep the player when he is on the DL or in the minor leagues, with the intent of putting him back on your active roster when he returns.)
Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche ...

Image via Wikipedia

Sure enough, LaRoche is traded back to the NL, and the Braves gave up Kotchman in return. The owner of Kotchman almost rightfully demanded to have LaRoche in exchange as the rules state in trades involving trades with the AL (assuming LaRoche was a free agent in our league). I stated my position that I acted within the rules to reserve LaRoche, and, to my surprise, the commissioner ruled in my favor! I was able to put LaRoche back on my active roster. I am now a full-fledged fantasy hypocrite because I had gamed a hole in the rules as I had accused others of doing. Rest assured the rules will state that the player traded to the AL next year must be FA’d.

Now, we have our draft league which clearly stated that LaRoche should be FA’d when sent to the AL. LaRoche was correctly FA’d by the owner. When LaRoche was traded back to the NL, the owner of Kotchman was given rights to LaRoche. Of course, the original owner of LaRoche claims he should get LaRoche back. I also imagine he had heard what happened in our auction league. Interestingly enough, other owners in this league were backing him up, in spite of the rules being quite clear otherwise. The commissioner correctly ruled in this case, as he should be bound to the rules as stated.
I’d guess that other fantasy leagues had this happen, too. I welcome any stories about how they handled the LaRoche round trip.
For those of you rolling your eyes in disgust at this fantasy geek, I encourage you to study the real baseball rules regarding waivers, trade deadlines, 5 year rules, etc. Your eyes will fall out before you can read and comprehend all of these rules! And, yes, I think Manny should have not been able to play in the minor leagues until his suspension was over.
Have a great day! I mean that, truly.

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If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail at peter@baseballreflections.com.

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