The Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Rebuild: Part 1

Photo credit Benjamin Rush, forloveofbaseball on Flickr

Ah, yes…the “rebuild.” Just as difficult to execute in a dynasty league as it is in real life, the rebuild can be both gratifying for the GM undertaking it and controversial to fellow league members. Having recently completed a two and a half season rebuild, I can attest to the gratifying part. Without hesitation, this was the most enjoyable and interesting thing I’ve done in fantasy sports and I learned more about player value, prospecting and roster strategy than I had in the previous 17 years competing in dynasty leagues. This series of articles started out as a single post on our league message board where I attempted to share techniques and best practices I learned during my rebuild. My aim here is to expand on each point of that original post in a more general way that can be applied to any dynasty format.

Let’s get started by defining what we mean by “rebuilding.” Every dynasty team goes through phases of competitiveness and cycles of relying on veteran players and acquiring youth. For our purposes, a rebuild includes the near complete deconstruction of the MLB roster in favor of carrying the maximum number of prospects possible and it will take at least two seasons and two off-seasons to complete. During at least one season the team will be completely non-competitive in the league standings.


The circumstances that lead a GM to undertake a complete rebuild project can vary greatly depending on the league and ruleset. They can also be quite subjective and subject to controversy. Every league has their own approach to the concept of a team tanking in the standings and in some formats it is just not appropriate. However, in deeper dynasty leagues where it’s uncommon for all of the teams to be stocked with star players, it can be a healthy option to avoid turnover in GMs and dead or broken teams. Many times the circumstances leading a GM to quit and leave their team abandoned involve having few options to rehabilitate their roster. The rebuild can be a last hope for salvaging an otherwise dead team that is weighing down your dynasty league. Additionally, when a team decides to rebuild, the league benefits with increased competition among the contending teams as additional assets become available and more teams are able to supplement their rosters for a playoff run. The old axiom applies: “The more trading is happening in a dynasty league, the healthier that league will be.” Having a rebuilder or several rebuilders in larger leagues is a very healthy thing for competition.

I will get into the specific strategies for rebuilding in the subsequent articles in this series. Now, a few quick prerequisites for league commissioners and GMs that are considering a rebuild.

Please realize these are my own personal views and opinions and not necessarily the overall view and stance from Prospects1500 the website.


Tips for commissioners:

1. Don’t place roster restrictions that require GMs to field MLB players during the season. This only makes the rebuilding process more difficult and less likely to succeed. A rebuilding team needs to be able to acquire future value in every place they can find it with every asset they have at their disposal. Let go of the idea that every team in your league needs to compete at all times.
2. Use the reverse order of your league standings for the draft order in your prospect draft each season. If rebuilding is a real option in your league and the guys at the top of the league are secure in their ability, there should be no issue with allowing the rebuilding teams to take the top prospects. It’s about the overall health of the league and everyone should be on board with that. In addition to using reverse order, use a lottery system to determine the overall top 3 to 5 picks. What this means is the very worst team, possibly one that’s tanked or went missing in action, doesn’t automatically get the 1st overall pick. This will ease some of the tension with a team that is in full rebuild mode and is losing every game. If you’re in a larger league with a couple of teams rebuilding this will sort out any tie standings you might have at the very beginning of your draft order.
3. Allow picks in your league’s yearly prospect draft to be traded. One of the top strategies I used to build a top tier team from scratch was stockpiling draft picks during the dismantling phase. Again, more trading is better and allowing draft picks to be traded will make the market in your league more robust for everyone. Just don’t get too carried away with it. In my experience it is best to restrict the trading of picks to just picks in the next draft. Trading picks beyond one year can get confusing and allows teams with the hope of competing in the short term to mortgage too much of their future.
4. If you have a trade review process, make sure that those involved in adjudicating it are on board with the concept of rebuilding and will allow GMs the freedom to value prospects subjectively.


Prerequisites for owners/GMs:

1. Don’t attempt a rebuild in your only league or in all of your leagues at once. There are times during a rebuild where not a lot is happening, you are mostly waiting on prospects to bloom and your team is getting destroyed every week. Make sure you have another outlet and can work on your rebuild over the right length of time.
2. Commit, from the beginning, to have patience and follow the process all the way through. It can be tempting to try to pull out of the rebuild with a flurry of trades after just one season, but often that will only result in losing value and a second more difficult rebuild. Can you stay the course?
3. Do you love Minor League Baseball and prospecting? If you’re in a dynasty league you are likely at least familiar with prospecting, but can you spend significant time looking for those future diamonds in the rough? Can you hold a prospect long enough for them to hit their peak value? If you’re going to rebuild, you need to at least be interested in going to that next level with prospects.

In the next installment in this series I will discuss the timing of the rebuild. How do you know it’s time to rebuild? What are the warning signs and how do you make the most of the switch in strategy? We’ll talk about getting the timing right and getting off on the right foot. We will discuss the difference between short and long term assets and how to value them in a rebuild project. In the meantime, if you have any comments or questions, post them below in our Comments section, and/or hit me up on Twitter at @ChappyIsClutch.




4 Comments

  1. Our league pays top 4 spots &changed the prospect draft to
    1.5th 2.6th 3.7th 4.8th 5.9th 6.10th 7.4th 8.3rd 9.2nd 10.1st this keeps teams fighting for the money or better draft spots and not a total dump for the bottom

    • That’s one I haven’t seen before and probably makes a lot of sense in a ten team league. The best part is that your league is thinking about what makes the most sense to keep the league healthy.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I am in a rebuild of a team that I took over on the offseason and was wondering if I should keep a few players like Hunter Dozier, Lordes Gurriel, Kevin Newman, Hanser Alberto, Garret Hampson, John Means, & Jordan Montgomery. Otherwise my roster is all prospects.
    16 team league with 30 MLB/20 MiLB spots. I look to be pretty competitive in 2022.

    • The answer to this depends a lot on what the trade market is like in your league. All of those players are solid assets, but with two seasons between now and your target for completing the rebuild could you turn say Dozier into Jazz Chisholm and a couple of draft picks as an example? If you can turn those assets into greater upside, it might be worth it. I think you’ll enjoy the next installment of the series, because I talk alot more about specific strategies and which assets to hold and trade.

      Thanks for reading!

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