by Sean Agranov
One day in early November a video appeared on Youtube that has caused fantasy baseball owners to squirm with anticipation of the next big thing. Of course I am talking about Cuban superstar outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. If you haven’t seen the 20 minute video complete with the Star Wars intro, Christopher Cross background music, slow motion home run shots swings, a workout routine that would make Clark Kent jealous and a pig roast you can still view it here.
After three months of hot stove banter of how this super player would sign with Yankees, Rangers, Marlins and others an announcement came from the proverbial outfield on February 13th that Yoenis Cespedes had agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal with the Oakland Athletics. They are the same team who had spent the off season acquiring a plethora of other lesser outfielders.
Now, this article is not about how great or awful Cespedes will be. For the record here are some of the various projections for 2012, all pretty similar:
ZIPS – .270, 23 HR, 86 RBI, 9 SB
Rotochamp – .273, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 7 SB
Razzball – .250, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 12 SB
Rotoprofessor – .253, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 7 SB
What I wanted to discuss is how this signing is being handled in various leagues as our early fantasy drafts are happening. Mostly due to the technicality that Cespedes’s contract is not official until he takes his physical and currently is still in the Dominican Republic dealing with visa issues.
I am in one deep league that has been slow drafting on a message board since December and is currently in its last rounds. This league had ruled that Cespedes and others like him are eligible to be drafted once a contract is officially signed, but Cespedes is still not officially until his physical is passed. This has caused the last rounds of the draft to come to a screeching halt as every owner is now taking the maximum 24 hour period and checking the Oakland Tribune religiously before making their pick in hopes that suddenly the deal will be announced as official.
Another league I am in that started drafting this week ruled that since the deal is 99% done, he is eligible to be drafted. Yet another league has taken the harder line stance that since he is not officially signed he is not allowed to be drafted, but will be available as free agent after the draft assuming his has been officially signed by then. Either way, both commissioners need to be aware a precedent may has just been set for the future.
Just as interesting is that of the big three fantasy sites, two of them (Yahoo and ESPN) have Cespedes already in their player pool. CBS does not. CBS has the largest player pool but historically is very strict about players being under official contract before being added. ESPN and Yahoo have been much looser, but I do remember both of them not adding a certain NFL player because he refused to sign the NFL players union agreement which controlled their right to his image.
I even know of another dynasty league that uses the rule that a new player such as Cespedes, or even Bryce Harper for that matter, cannot be picked up or drafted until he plays a game in the majors. Waiver wire wars are common in that league as there are yearly fights to claim the next great rookie.
Fantasy Constitutions have all sorts of clauses that are written to help solve these types of dilemmas. A few years ago, Commissioners were scrambling to deal with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Matsui clauses to help solve the issues with some of these foreign signings. These are normally similar to Dynasty Leagues that have minors having very specific rules regarding when you can sign the June MLB draftees. Some even may have rules regarding unsigned veterans that may sign midseason like Pedro Martinez did and Roy Oswalt has annouced he might do.
The important thing is for fantasy owners to know their league rules and pick accordingly so you know when you can grab Cespedes officially.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: