This is an issue that is currently being hotly debated in my league. This is the 3rd year, and for the first two years we allowed teams to trade keeper rights, but we're considering doing away with it. The first year, no one did it. Last year, there were three trades involving keeper rights. Conceivably, more trades involving keeper rights will occur from year to year as people get a handle on it. To clarify what I mean by "trading keeper rights", basically each team starts out with 4 keeper rights, the right to keep 4 players the following season. By trading keeper rights, one team can give up one of their keeper rights, with or without players, in exchange for a player or players. A situation where this would make sense would be if someone was making a push for the playoffs and he lacked a solid shortstop and a guy who was out of the playoff race had Jose Reyes...Manager A could trade a keeper right to Manager B in exchange for Jose Reyes. We have a rule that players taken in the first 4 rounds are not keeper-eligible, so Jose Reyes would be worth far less to a team that's not going to make the playoffs anyway than a keeper right would be. There are two major complaints about this:
1. It throws off the competitive balance too much, with already good teams getting better and bad teams getting worse, for the current season anyway.
2. If a manager has no intention of returning the following season, he has no incentive NOT to trade away his keeper rights and make a push for the playoffs. He'll be screwing over whoever takes over the team that following season but it's not gonna be him so what does he care.
Both scenarios played out last year and really kind of soured the spirit of the league at the end. My team was already stacked and I made it pretty much unstoppable by trading a keeper right for Grady Sizemore on my march to the championship, and another manager tried trading 2 of his keeper rights away for a bunch of studs that were not keeper eligible. Luckily I was aware of his intentions not to return the next year and the trade was vetoed, but it was a huge headache. Furthermore, there's no way to have ESPN automatically handle trading keeper rights and different teams having a different number of keepers, I have to do it all manually, and as more trades like this happen I could see things getting really messy.
Do you see any way around this or should we abandon the rule altogether? One proposed compromise is to set the deadline for trading keeper rights to an earlier date than the regular trade deadline (Aug. 15), like July 15th. That way, it wouldn't shake things up so close to the playoffs and would allow for more time to make regular trades, and hopefully that early in the season no one will already have plans to bail on their team after the season. Other than that, I'm at a loss for solutions. I really liked the rule originally...I thought it gave the league an extra strategic dimension that other leagues don't have...but it hasn't worked out quite the way I wanted. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.