MASTER NOTES: The double deadline? Count me in!

So, how ’bout that Monday deadline? I know a lot of fantasy owners in weekly-moves leagues don’t like it, but I think it’s great, and I wish it happened more than five more times in the next 34 years.

What do I like about it? I play AL-only, and big part of roster management during the season is setting up for the deadline and the potential studs who might “cross over” from the NL, or “that other league,” as we call it. How much FAAB to spend during the early season? How much to save for the deadline?

My league also has weekly moves, which adds a layer to the tactical management. (According to the excellent, the Tout Wars stats and service provider, about two-thirds of leagues are weekly tranny leagues.) Most such leagues typically have their transaction deadline Sunday night. And since the MLB July 31 deadline usually falls on a weekday, all the traded “crossover” players are available at the same time, on the subsequent Sunday night.

As we know, this year was different. Because July 31 fell on a Sunday, MLB moved its trade deadline to Monday, August 1. As a result, players traded on Monday missed the usual Sunday fantasy deadline, and were instead eligible for bid or claim on the following Sunday night, August 7.

To make a long story short, fantasy owners had two trade-deadline opportunities. And that created the tactical question: On that first Sunday, should an owner bid aggressively, even go all-in, or use a privileged waivers slot on one of the players who as crossed over in the pre-deadline week?

By acting fast, the owner gets an extra week of stats. One week is about 4% of the season. For a starter, that’s one start for sure and maybe two. For a reliever, save opportunities. For a hitter, 25-30 PA. And making the move means added certainty: The owner knows he has acquired an asset—it's the old saw about a (Greg) bird in the hand is worth two in the (Sam) bush.

The advantage of waiting—and accepting the added risk—is that the owner might still be in the running should some better players make the jump between leagues, including players who might cross over even later by clearing waivers. It doesn't happen quite as often these days, but it does occur.

Of course a huge factor is the caliber of players involved. The pre-week list this year in NL-only included Aroldis Chapman crossing to the Cubs, a no-brainer bid for the owner with the most FAAB ("the hammer"). But hammerless NL-only owners had to consider whether to go in on Eduardo Nunez, a dubious all-star moving to SF.

In AL-only leagues, the first deadline had such mid-tier players as Melvin Upton, Lucas Harrell, and Tyler Clippard. (And to add further confusion in some leagues, prospects can also be promoted, like speedster infielder Raul Mondesi in KC.)

The waiting paid off. At the deadline on Monday, Jonathan Lucroy crossed over to the AL, somewhat unexpectedly, to Texas. Lucroy was even more valuable than most crossovers. Yes, all crossovers of even modest worth will improve an only-league fantasy team because they will replace an often sub-replacement fifth OF or middle- or corner infielder. But being able to replace a second catcher with an .800+ OPS all-star is like hitting the Powerball. Relatively speaking.

AL-only owners who rolled the dice can also target starting pitchers Mike Bolsinger and Francisco Liriano, now of Toronto; reliever Jeremy Jeffress of Texas; and 3B Matt Duffy of Tampa, who will very quickly acquire SS status, if we believe pronouncements from Rays’ management.

NL-only owners who passed up Chapman (or got outbid) had even better pickings. The possibilities include SPs Rich Hill, Matt Moore, Ivan Nova and Drew Hutchison, all going to better situations; relievers Jesse Chavez and Joe Smith (and Josh Fields, in AAA but pitching very well there); and OF Josh Reddick.

(On the Tuesday Trade Deadline Roundtable edition of BaseballHQ Radio, experts Ray Murphy and Todd Zola both recommended targeting Hutchison and staying far, far away from Liriano. Zola also likes Nova for park-change reasons.)

So if the question is, “How should I play it?”, the answer is ... there’s no right answer. The decision is highly contextual, subject to analysis of the free agents and the rostered players they might replace; the fantasy team’s status in the FAAB standings, the league standings and the category standings; other teams’ category potentials and needs; the possibility of trading...

And that’s what makes it great. At its root, our game is supposed to be a test of player acumen. But it’s also a game, and properly rewards those who understand the game and play it well. Fantasy baseball tests our ability to strategize, to identify tactical opportunities, and then to formulate and execute specific actions. This year's double deadline created the environment for a lot of last-minute in-league wheeling and dealing, especially in leagues that allow trading of FAAB, and furious negotiations that at their best feel a lot like ... the MLB trade deadline. That’s a big part of the challenge—and the fun.

Meanwhile, if you don’t like the double-deadline, I understand. You’ll be pleased to know that you won’t have to deal with it for another six years. July 31 doesn’t fall on a Sunday again until the year 2022.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.