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Thread: Brainstorming: Contract Length

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    Beloved Former Owner DukeRulesMAB's Avatar
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    Default Brainstorming: Contract Length

    I'll start this by saying this isn't so much a formal proposal as more thinking out loud.

    As long as we've had free agency outside the game, even before we took extensions outside the game, we've used the same contract calculation with a 3 year sweet spot. I'm not sure that makes sense any more. At the time, players usually lasted deep into their late 30s, and there wasn't really as much risk in 5 year deals. In the last few versions, though, most players start to decline in their early 30s; longer deals are inherently more risky.

    My theory is that we might change from a 3 year sweet spot to a calculation that places more value on longer deals. That would better reflect, for lack of a better word, "realistic" thinking from players (who might favor more guaranteed money over a shorter contract with a higher rate). It also would give us more variety in free agency contracts, where we're seeing mostly 3 year deals with some1 year deals, and a handful of 2 year deals (and almost never 4/5 year deals).

    If we did this, I would say to keep the 5 year cap, to limit long-term damage to franchises from outrageous contracts. And to be clear, this proposal would result in more bad deals that last longer. But it would also make the determination of what to offer or match in free agency more interesting. I don't necessarily think that "people might make bad decisions" is a good reason to avoid an otherwise good rule change. But I also can't say I've thought it through well enough to say whether this would be overall beneficial.

    I would say that if we adopted this, we probably should consider an "amnesty provision" for new owners. That is to say, in a situation like when YD took over SLC, imagine if the Graham/Culkins contracts had been 5 year albatrosses rather than 3. With an amnesty provision, a new owner could take an existing contract on his team and wipe it off the books in his first offseason. That would limit the downside to changing the contract calculation, because I worry less about what owners do to their own teams than what they do to future owners if they quit. In fact, I think an amnesty provision might not be a bad idea to consider anyway; YD was incredibly patient in a terrible situation when he took over, but many new owners would get frustrated and disappear. Amnesty might help with that.


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  2. #2
    FOBL Board of Governors Hollywood's Avatar
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    I definitely think new owners should get some kind of amnesty provision, and I like the general concepts you've outlined otherwise.

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    Beloved Former Owner TRO's Avatar
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    I like the 3 yr sweet spot. But I would be willing to discuss.

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    FOBL Board of Governors Morgado's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRO View Post
    I like the 3 yr sweet spot. But I would be willing to discuss.
    Same here. I think it's fine to have a discussion, but I am okay with the way things are now. The sweet spot puts a limit on how interesting FA can get, but it is already pretty damn interesting. It's the other stuff in FOBL I wish was more interesting, to tell you the truth. Anyway, the concentration of contract renewals on 1 and 3 year "short" intervals might do some indirect things that are helpful. For example, players re-entering FA regularly allows them to be re-priced according to the state of the league. Especially after the move to 13, the talent mix of the league has changed; the days of 15m+ bids on guys like Gibbay are over - long live the 15m+ SP amirite? In any case, higher velocity is probably getting us better information - so I like that we've incentivized it.

    This also builds in a transition protection for when we move versions because we don't know ahead of time what a version change will do to the way players play (even with the same ratings) due to engine changes. That and changes to talent mix, prospect creation, development, etc. affect relative valuations in ways we cannot anticipate well; since FOBL moves so slowly (lez be honest - we do), guys can be in the middle of a long term contract bridging a version change that slams the hell out of what they are worth.... or greatly inflates. It doesn't even take a version change - could be for any reason, like if we change the talent/dev coefficients. The longer we have contracts projecting out, the more complicated it is to try and figure out effects of when we are moving regimes and what kinds of temporal planning has to be done around such events. If the contracts are just routinely shorter, it automatically builds in flexibility.

    Building in fail safes that prevent very bad things from happening has been the starting point for a lot of things we've had in our rules since the creation of the league. It's why the OC concept was in the original 2001 financial system discussions. I generally try to side with caution and putting in constraints that let people have some fun but not too much if it means taking on a lot of systemic risk. Like an economy, FOBL has a shload of moving parts so there are often unanticipated effects (one of my advisors used to call economics the study of unintended consequences).

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    FOFL Commissioner cuervo72's Avatar
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    I'd add that in come cases the 5yr contract seems risky, but in others - players who reached maturity and were called up young - it's not at all. Take Len Hayes, who entered FA at 25. Or Happy, who did so at 26. I think in quite a few cases the 5yr contract is pretty safe if it takes players to 30, 31. The contract after that would be a bit more risky.

    Of course on the other hand, you do get guys like Brad Phillips who start their decline at 29...


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    Beloved Former Owner TRO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgado View Post
    Smart Things
    I knew Morg would put my thoughts down in a more complete fashion. Ape brain no work good.

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    FOBL Owner/GM Doc P's Avatar
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    I think the 3 year sweet spot is an outdated concept. I like Duke's idea.


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    Owner and GM, Washington Piledrivers and Virginia Woodchucks Subby's Avatar
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    I like the 3 year sweet spot. No interest in changing it.
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    FOBL Board of Governors CubsFan915's Avatar
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    I've always thought having every free agent prefer a 3-year deal is a bit unrealistic. While I tend to agree that for the most part players would think "longer=better", I don't know that having everyone prefer a 4 or 5 year deal is any better. Not sure how we determine a variable sweet spot where some players prefer 3, some players prefer 4, and some prefer 5, short of pure random number-y, though.
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    FOBL Board of Governors Hollywood's Avatar
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    Perhaps we could work up a new contract evaluation algorithm that could incorporate Loyalty and Intelligence, among other ratings?

  11. #11
    FOBL Board of Governors Morgado's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CubsFan915 View Post
    I've always thought having every free agent prefer a 3-year deal is a bit unrealistic.
    It's not realistic at all. But there are limitations on how realistic we can be before making things either too complicated or even un-fun. Like with shitty ass macroeconomic models, i'm willing to sacrifice some realism in the modeling to make things tractable.

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    FOFL Commissioner cuervo72's Avatar
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    The think wee need to be careful with the 5-yr contracts. Too many of them and you suck guys out of the FA market (they cycle slower). Think FA is bare now? Imagine if the best guys only appear every five years.

    Not that I think they'd all be signed for long deals every time. I think what we might see for a decent player is 5 100k years, then a 5yr FA deal, then a variety of deals depending on how good the guys are. We should probably start studying what the average lifespan for a player is. Is it much longer than 10 years (5 100k + 5yr deal). 11 (100k + 3yr + 3yr)? I'm a little behind on updating the data tables that run the metrics page (really I could probably edit to pull from the StatsLab tables), but assuming that was correct at some point, we had a whopping 28 hitters and 26 pitchers in the league over the age of 33. If guys start at about 23-24, then spend five years indentured and another five on their first FA deal...


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    FOBL Board of Governors wolvie109's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CubsFan915 View Post
    I've always thought having every free agent prefer a 3-year deal is a bit unrealistic. While I tend to agree that for the most part players would think "longer=better", I don't know that having everyone prefer a 4 or 5 year deal is any better. Not sure how we determine a variable sweet spot where some players prefer 3, some players prefer 4, and some prefer 5, short of pure random number-y, though.
    I think adding in player "thought" into this system will be way too difficult to administer and monitor. It's the same reason why I don't like the AI contract negotiations in game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc P View Post
    I think the 3 year sweet spot is an outdated concept.
    He look Doc and I agree on something. However, I agree in the sense that there is no incentive to sign a player for anything more than the three years. As far as we've seen, excluding 100k FA offers, 97% of contracts are 3 years. However, I don't think we should change the sweet spot. I think maybe we should change the premiums on the 4 and 5 year contracts so that they won't be so drastic that no one wants to sign a player for longer than 3 years. That, or we can add some kind of incentive for a 4 and 5 year contract. Maybe a front loaded scaled contract so that the team can get a better discount on the player when they hit FA again.

    Say something like a 3 year contract gets no scale so it would be $1M straight through, a 4 year contract will be something like $1.25 (or whatever the scale is currently) the first year and second year, then $900k for the third and 4th year, and a 5 year contract will start at $1.5 and scale down to $750k. This give incentive for owners to bid on players with the longer contracts even with the higher premiums and it gives flexibility to the owner where they can either keep or trade a player at the cheaper price later on.

    I do agree with the Pope on the fact that 5 - 100k years and an extra 5 year contract really does seem like it would be the life span for a lot of these players. Maybe we just need to eliminate the 4th and 5th years completely?

  14. #14
    FOBL Board of Governors Hollywood's Avatar
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    If nothing else, I'd like to use this as a jumping off point to discuss modifying the 100K system currently in place. In a perfect world, I think we would have a graduated pay scale that went up from years 1 to 5, but that would be an administrative nightmare. I still think something needs to be done to minimize the benefit of 100K players.

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    FOBL Board of Governors Hollywood's Avatar
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    I think we should eliminate the callup exemption. Not only because it is also an administrative nightmare, but we need to get players cycling through the free agency system more often to take advantage of their productive years.

  16. #16
    FOBL Owner/GM critch's Avatar
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    The 5 year deal might could end up with a lot of players doing the 5x100k years, then a 5 year first proper contract, then heavily discounted hometown/legacy deals until they're worthless. As Shaw said, it'll take a lot of the action out of free agency.

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    FOBL Board of Governors wolvie109's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollywood View Post
    If nothing else, I'd like to use this as a jumping off point to discuss modifying the 100K system currently in place. In a perfect world, I think we would have a graduated pay scale that went up from years 1 to 5, but that would be an administrative nightmare. I still think something needs to be done to minimize the benefit of 100K players.
    Maybe reduce the 100k years from 5 to 3 and get rid of call-ups and keep discounts the same?

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    I would be in favor of getting rid of the callup year. No chance I want to get rid of the 5 100k years.
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    Beloved Former Owner TRO's Avatar
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    Ax the call up exemption.

    If we could rely on the FAC doing a good job of handling it, I would be in favor of amending rookie saleries to be scaled up in some fashion. Something like 100,100,100,250,500 or 100,200,400,600,800.

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    FOBL Board of Governors Hollywood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRO View Post
    If we could rely on the FAC doing a good job of handling it, I would be in favor of amending rookie saleries to be scaled up in some fashion. Something like 100,100,100,250,500 or 100,200,400,600,800.
    It would have to be manually done and I ain't doing it.

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    FOBL Owner/GM frozenrope's Avatar
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    I don't think I'd be in favor of adjusting the 3 year sweet spot if we didn't also graduate the 100k 5 min salary scale. Adjusting one without the other will hurt the FA market.


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    (Or Dark Cloud. Whichever works.) Young Drachma's Avatar
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    I would say that if we adopted this, we probably should consider an "amnesty provision" for new owners. That is to say, in a situation like when YD took over SLC, imagine if the Graham/Culkins contracts had been 5 year albatrosses rather than 3. With an amnesty provision, a new owner could take an existing contract on his team and wipe it off the books in his first offseason. That would limit the downside to changing the contract calculation, because I worry less about what owners do to their own teams than what they do to future owners if they quit. In fact, I think an amnesty provision might not be a bad idea to consider anyway; YD was incredibly patient in a terrible situation when he took over, but many new owners would get frustrated and disappear. Amnesty might help with that.
    We did this in FOOL & SLOP it worked well for the most part, because like Duke said, bad owners sometimes leave teams in shitty situations. It can be capped at an amount, but...the amnesty clause is a good idea.

    For my part, I figured I've twice taken over teams that weren't in the best shape...but I left a team behind that way once too. So it's just penance.

  23. #23
    (Or Dark Cloud. Whichever works.) Young Drachma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollywood View Post
    It would have to be manually done and I ain't doing it.
    Fuck rules. Fuck work.

  24. #24
    FOBL Board of Governors Draft Dodger's Avatar
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    I too like the 3 year sweet spot.

    I wouldn't mind something where the player values longer deals, but I think there should be a minimum involved for 4 or 5 year deals (say $8 and $10M?). It would echo real baseball a bit in that the only really long deals you see are the big ones. It would add some risk to signing some of the big whoppers each year, while making sure there are still plenty of good players coming into FA every 3.

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    I don't feel a desperate urge to change anything, but if we're spitballing anyway, I had this idea. Note that I have not thought through the league-wide economic implications of something like this, so it's very possible there's a good reason why it would never work. It's also probably a pain to keep track of administratively, but what the hell ...

    1. Keep the 5/100k rookie deals (I'm fine with getting rid of the callup exemption).
    2. Players only get one RFA contract. It can be 1-5 years in length, on a graduated scale (no 3-year sweet spot ... 1 year deals would be the cheapest, 5 years the most expensive), and during bidding, the player's current owner retains all hometown/loyalty discounts.
    3. After the initial RFA contract expires, the player becomes a UFA, and the existing contract rules apply (5 year max / 3 year sweet spot, no discounts).
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