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Benchwarmer Baseball Rules

9.0 Building a Team Ė The Startup Draft

All first-year leagues will initially fill their rosters through a draft, which will occur in two phases.  Currently, Benchwarmer Baseball does not utilize a live draft system.  The process is similar to the "multi-list" system that many leagues use.  However, rather than ranking players in the order desired, you pick a full team that fits under the salary cap and the draft process is used to resolve situations where players are chosen by more than one team.

*** The extremely short version of this is that you pick a full team to fit under a given salary cap.  Since everyone is picking a team independently, there will be some conflicts and you won't get everyone you want.  The rules below indicate in depth how those conflicts will be resolved.  Your mission - pick a team, that's it - don't worry about the complexity below if you don't want to. ***
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9.1 Phase One Draft

9.1.1 Phase One - Submission

Each owner will submit a list of players.  This list must meet the following criteria:

  • Only those players on the master roster may be included at this time.
  • All mandatory positions must be filled - 14 position players, 5 starting pitchers, 5 relief pitchers, and 2 spot pitchers.
  • The list must also have at least one player in each field position.  This is determined by the primary position of players on the master roster.  Once the season begins, you can use a player at any primary or secondary position for which he is listed.  For the purposes of the draft, however, you must adhere to the primary positions.
  • Pitchers, regardless of position designation, can fill either a starting or reliever role.
  • The list can include up to the roster limit of 40 players.
  • Owners may optionally rank players in order of importance (see Resolution below).
  • The salaries of the players must fit within the salary cap.  2017 Change: The draft salary cap for brand new teams is the same as for all of Benchwarmer teams PLUS 10 million BW Bucks (10000).  This used to be added in between Phase 1 and Phase 2

The idea here is to pick a team as though you were going to get every player.  The problem is that several teams will choose the same players.  There may be some strategy in not selecting certain popular/expensive players.

If a team submits an improper draft list
  • Not enough players - or missing positions
    • The League Office will pick the player making the most money to fill the missing position and still keep the list under the salary cap.
    • If multiple positions are missing, see the guidelines used for Inactive Owners to fill the draft list.
  • Too many players - Too many players above 250 salary - Over the salary cap
    • If more than 40 players are submitted, the League Office will randomly remove players from the list until it is at 40.  If a player selected to be removed is the only one eligible to fill a given fielding position, or if he is a pitcher and his removal would leave the team with fewer than 12 pitchers, he will be retained.
    • If the team is above the salary cap or has too many players making more than 250 on the list (you can have a maximum of 28 on your "major league" roster), then the League Office will begin removing players starting with the players making the highest salaries, until the draft list is legal.

9.1.2 Phase One - Resolution

Players who are selected by only one team are awarded to that team.  For example, if an owner is the only person to draft Jacoby Ellsbury, he's on the team. More likely, however, is that several teams will draft Ellsbury, so he is not put on a roster.  It's highly improbable that an owner will have exclusive claim to all 40 roster spots, which leads us to the Phase One Resolution Process.


During this phase, owners sit back and wait for their rosters to be filled - usually within about a week.  All the "exclusive" draft choices will be awarded to their respective teams, although for the time being they will not be officially added to the roster. Resolution Order
  1. Uniquely drafted players automatically go the team that picked them.  But their salaries and roster spots will not count toward the tiebreakers below in determining contested picks.
  2. New in 2014 Season - Contested selections of all players with salary 100 will be resolved using the process and tiebreakers below.  Once those players are awarded, team salary balances and roster composition will be reset to zero temporarily in order to resolve contested picks of players with salaries > 100.
  3. Contested picks of players making more than 100 in salary will be resolved using the process and tiebreakers below.


Why the change in 2014 to do Salary 100 players separately?  Years of processing drafts made it clear that the process for resolving contested picks led to:

  • Once a team received a player with salary > 1000 or so, they were largely out of the running for prospects and young players.
  • When the first tiebreaker for resolution is cap space remaining to spend, once a team is in a position of having only signed a few players with salary 100-200, they often could get in a run of being awarded 4-5 prospects in a row...and might end up with a large majority of the future stars when the draft was over.
  • Some drafts were starting to turn into teams listing 20-40 prospects instead of a balanced roster/lineup and the results could be skewed.  Several people had requested a "minimum salary requirement" for a draft list - this is an alternate attempt to even the playing field. Contested Pick - Resolution Process and Tiebreakers

Players that have been drafted by more than one team will be compiled into a list sorted in this order:

  1. Players given a #1 draft rank by any team (sorted in descending order of the number of teams ranking them at the top)
  2. Players drafted by the most teams.
  3. Players with the highest salaries.
  4. Numerically, by position number in baseball scoring (OF  = 7, DH = 8 in this case)
  5. Alphabetical by player's last name.


After the above list has been completed, the League Office will begin placing these players, one-by-one, onto the team rosters. The player currently at the top of the list is eligible to be placed on any of the teams that initially drafted him.


The team that gets him will be chosen using the following criteria, in order:

  1. The team that bid the most tie-breaking cash for the player. (see below)
  2. The team with lowest total salary of all awarded players.   (Total team salary is an initial rough guide to team strength).
  3. The team with the fewest total number of signed players.
  4. Player ranking (see below).
  5. Random drawing

Thus, at the beginning of the draft, some of the player awards will be done via the ranking and/or random drawing, since most teams will have zero players.  However, rules changes in 2014-15 along with draft rank should minimize the number of random draws compared to the early-2000s.


The 2015 change eliminates a couple of the tiebreaking criteria and adds the auction bid to the process. Cash Bids to Break Ties in Player Awards

This is a method added in 2015 to provide a little blind "auction" action into the list draft process.  It's designed to give owners a bit more say into which players they are awarded.

  • Along with ranking players as mentioned below, team owners can do another optional step to attempt to get the players they really want and bypass the other tiebreakers.  They can bid an extra amount of cash for a player on top of the player's salary.
  • Teams are limited to a total of 5000 (5 million) in cash for auction bidding.
  • Bids can only be placed in increments of 250. (2017 Change - this used to be 500)
  • 2017 Change - The total cash put up for auction bids comes out of the total amount of cash available to spend for salaries in the draft list.  Total team salary of the draft list plus total of auction cash bid cannot exceed the startup salary cap (BWB annual cap + 10000)
    • This 2017 change replaces this old rule: Teams still can pick a draft list that uses the entire amount of the salary cap.  Between Phase One and Phase Two of the draft, all teams are awarded an extra ten million in cash (10000).  Any cash spent via bid awards will come out of that between-phase cash distribution.  So, for example, if a team uses all 5000 in auction cash during Phase One, they will only receive 5000 before Phase Two.
  • If more than one team places a cash bid on a player, the team that bids the highest amount gets the player.
    • If more that one team ties for the highest bid, those tied bidding teams go on to the remaining award tiebreakers.  All other teams are out of the running for that player.
    • Only the team that wins the bid will have cash deducted.
    • The full amount of the bid will be deducted, regardless of margin over the other teams.  If one team bids 4000 for a player and the next highest bidder put up only 500, then 4000 is the amount paid.
    • 2017 Change: Only the amount of the bid needed to win the tiebreaker (to the nearest 250) will be deducted from the team balance.  If one team bids 4000 for a player and the next highest bidder put up only 500, then 750 is the amount paid.  If only one team bids for a player, then 250 is the amount spent.
  • Auction cash spent will NOT count toward the team's total salary.  For other tiebreakers that depend on total team salary or for rearranging draft order in Phase Two, the total salary of all players and not the team's remaining cash on hand will be the deciding factor. Player Ranking

As teams pick players for the draft, they may optionally give each player a rank of importance, entered via the web interface for selecting players in the draft.



  • "1" = the highest rank; "40" is the lowest rank; An unranked player is shown as "0"
  • Ranking players is optional
  • If you give 2 players the same rank, both will automatically be changed to the lowest of your ranked players, with the higher salary getting the higher rank.
  • In this tiebreaker, the team that gives the player the highest rank gets him. If multiple teams give the same rank, they advance to the random draw.


Typically, about the first 8-14 players are placed on teams that have no one on the roster yet. Because we start with the players picked most often, you'll want to make sure you give ranks to the players you think other teams will pick. It might be a waste of your effort to rank your entire draft list -- but it doesn't hurt anything (and in the end, you really donít know which players will be the ones selected most often).

Note: if you are participating in a LIVE draft and don't show up for the draft, the league will use your ranks to determine the order of drafting players for you. Resolution Examples

Example A: At the start of the draft, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, "Rookie Phenom", and "Japanese Import" are the most-chosen players - by 14 teams.  ARod has the highest salary, so he is considered first.  Since all teams have 0 players and 0 salary, ARod is awarded via random drawing, let's say to "Team X".  Now we consider Pujols.  If Team X has listed Pujols, it is now eliminated in tiebreaker 1, because everyone else has total salary = 0.  Again, we will have to go all the way to the random drawing, and "Team Y" wins.  Now, between Rookie Phenom and Japanese Import, both have a salary of 100, but Phenom is a catcher (2) and Import is a shortstop (6), so we award Phenom first in the same manner - with Team X and Team Y out of the running. If Phenom and Import both played shortstop, then Import would be awarded first (tiebreaker #4 - last name).

Example B: Further on in the draft, we're awarding players chosen by three teams.  "Grizzled Veteran" has been chosen by Team X (3400 under the cap), Team Y (5675), and Team Z (1345).  Since Team Y is the furthest from reaching the salary cap, it gets the player. Uniquely Drafted Players and Players with Salary 100 now Placed on Teams

After all contested players are awarded, players drafted only by one team and players with salary 100 who were awarded in the contested pick phase above will be added to the proper teams.


Why aren't these players' salaries and positions counted in the tiebreaker for contested pick resolution?  This was a big change from our initial league in 2000, because adding these players first unintentionally penalized the teams who attempted to sign a lot of players or might have been taking a gamble on a few rookies or relatively unknown players.

9.2 Phase Two

After Phase One, most teams will not meet the roster minimum of 26 players.  At this time, all teams will go through a special free agent signing period.  In a manner of speaking, this is more like a traditional list draft, and is similar to the weekly transactions throughout the season, with these exceptions:

  • Before this phase begins, all teams in the league will get an extra 10 million Benchwarmer Bucks. 2017 Change: As mentioned above in 9.1.1, the extra 10 million in cash is now provided at the start of Phase One.
  • Teams submit an eight-round draft sheet, while the weekly transactions are only four rounds.
  • At the beginning of each round, the selection order is changed.  Teams with the lowest total team salary draft first. (This is a clarification of what used to read "most room under the cap" - any cash spent on auctions in Phase 1 is not counted here for total team salary - 1/4/2017)
  • There are no cuts in this phase.
  • Players will only be awarded to a team if he fits under their salary cap AND the team has enough cash to pay for any remaining unfilled positions / roster slots.
  • Teams may list an alternate selection for each round - if the primary player is already taken, or cannot be awarded for reasons mentioned above, then the alternate is checked.
  • If the alternate can also not be placed on the team, then the team's next round selection (and alternate) will be moved up to the current round.
  • If, after this 8-round submission, there are still teams that do not meet roster minimums, then this phase will be repeated.  All teams are eligible to participate in any phase.  Typically, we can fill the rosters in three 8-round submissions.  Sometimes we need four submissions until all teams are legal.

If a team misses the posted deadline for selection or does not submit a list for Phase Two, then they will receive no players in the first eight-round selection.  They will have a chance to submit a list for a second or any subsequent run-throughs.  Typically, this deadline will be at least three days after the draft results are posted - sometimes as long as a week.


The goal in Phase Two is to get every team to a legal roster - with 14 hitters, 12 pitchers, and every fielding position covered.  That's not to say that the roster will good - minor league players will be used to fill roster minimums - but you'll have normal free agency for the remainder of Spring Training to fine tune the roster.


If a team misses several deadlines in the follow-up signing periods, then the League Office may fill their team for them - using the methods described in the Inactive Owners section of the rules.  For returning leagues, this policy is used only at Opening Day, but in startup leagues, it is important for all teams to meet minimum levels so that free-agency and trading can begin. Another option may be to call an end to Phase Two and the team will fill the final spots during the Free Agency period.

9.2.1 Late Season Drafts Ė Exceptions to Phase Two Additional Rounds

For leagues drafting later in the pre-season, the League Office might increase the number of rounds in a Phase Two submission to more than 8 in order to allow the teams to reach a legal roster more quickly. Calling an Early End to Phase Two

If only a few teams are slightly short of a legal roster and the beginning of the season is drawing near, the Office may call an end to Phase Two and allow the league to go into Free Agency. If the teams without a legal roster missed a Phase Two deadline, it is almost certain that Phase Two will end early. (So, in mid-to-late March donít skip the second submission of Phase Two thinking youíll have the third submission all to yourself).

9.3 Free Agency

At this point, now that each team has a legal roster, the league will enter a Free Agent signing period to allow the teams to fill out their rosters.  Actual dates will be communicated from the Commissioner's Office.  See Roster Changes for selection details.  Selection order will be based initially on room left under the salary cap, and will continue as a normal league in the off-season (as teams select a player, that team goes to the bottom of the order, which is maintained from week to week).  Trades will also be allowed at that time.


Transaction Order exception: If Phase Two was stopped by BWB before all teams had a legal roster, those teams missing roster spots will be at the top of the transaction order.  Teams needing the most players will pick toward the top and then will be ordered by team total salary.


Typically at this point, new leagues will follow the same once-per-week transaction schedule.  However, if the draft rounds were completed late in the pre-season, it is possible that the selections will occur more frequently and/or teams may be allowed to pick more than four players per transaction period.

9.4 Notes

Until the season begins, there is only an 80% salary rebate for players cut from rosters.  Teams get no rebate when cutting a player making a salary of 200 or below.  2009 Change - Because teams can get in somewhat of a salary cap jam during the draft and they don't have full control over every action in the draft (due to the list-submission and resolution process), new leagues can make cuts in the first two normal transaction periods after the Phase Two draft is done and receive a 100% salary rebate on cut players.  There is still no rebate for players with salaries of 200 or below.  For late-drafting leagues, if this 2-cycle period extends into the regular season, that's OK.


Returning teams are limited to just 5 million bucks that they can bring into a season.  Anything above that is removed before the start of the season.  First-year teams do not have that limitation.  If they have 15 million left on Opening Day, they get to keep it.


All teams get an extra 2 million to spend on Opening Day.

9.5 Live Draft Option

As new leagues join the BWB Universe, owners will have a choice of entering either the standard, list draft process, or participate in a new, experimental live draft. Why "experimental" when all sorts of leagues on the Internet do this now? Starting a league in BWB with a draft brings a few interesting problems, including: Salary cap, 16 teams per league, and 40-man rosters.


If we draft an entire team, it will take a full day, maybe two! So, the draft will allow teams to draft in a live manner the first ten players for their rosters. At a minute a pick, that's still over 2.5 hours. Once the live draft is over, teams will then enter the normal Phase 2 process of the draft as described above.


BWB does not expect to build its own draft interface in the near future. Instead, we'll use some kind of pre-existing Internet chat interface. There will be limited draft sessions available, but in the heart of the drafting season (late Feb. and early March), we'll try to present a wide array of days/times. Starting in January, 1 or 2 draft sessions should be available each weekend.

9.5.1 Live Drafts in 2017

Added 3/1/17


We'll take another shot at live drafts this season.  Instead of using a chat interface as we did in the past, we'll try to use a commercially available draft room/interface.

  • For 2017, we'll use the ESPN Fantasy Baseball draft room.  Owners who choose a live draft will need to sign up for an ID/password there if they don't have one already.
  • Users should join the league(s) of their choice in BWB to reserve a spot.  Close to the date of the draft, users will receive an invite to join the ESPN league.
  • We'll draft via the snake draft format.  Draft order will be done randomly via ESPN.
  • There will be 20 rounds to the draft - the draft rosters will be set up in this manner:
    • 9 hitters - One player each at DH, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and 3 OF
    • 5 starting pitchers
    • 3 relief pitchers
    • 3 bench players at any position
  • I'm tempted to limit time for picks to 30 seconds, but things can happen, so we'll set it at 1 minute per pick, but I strongly suggest you to queue up your picks in advance so that you can pick as soon as it's your turn.
  • If I have the ability to halt/correct the draft, any "mistakes" by hitting the wrong button must be called out via the draft chat before the next team picks, otherwise you have to live with the pick. (If the next pick is on "auto" or the owner was quick on the trigger, then with discretion I may allow a fix - but will not allow that fix to be the player picked by the next team).
  • Once the draft is complete, each team will have 20 players and will only be 6 players short of a legal roster.  We'll use the normal Phase 2 process to finish up the draft.  We should be able to wrap up Phase 2 with one or, at most, two list submissions.
  • We'll utilize whatever positions ESPN assigns to players, even if they differ from BWB.  However, in order to determine the draft is complete after Phase 2, each team must have positions filled by someone eligible via their primary position.
  • After the draft, owners will be responsible for filling out the draft list for their team that is normally used for list drafts with the players they pick in the draft.  This will need to be complete by some pre-determined time (about 24 hours). This will be used in order to fill out the rosters in the BWB system.  Note - if BWB can find a way to take a final draft report/listing from the draft engine and automate the process, it will do that instead.
Potential issues:
  • Different player lists
    • Players who are in BWB but not in ESPN: We'll be limited to ESPN's player pool, which won't include the deep minor league players (last year's first round draft picks, for example).  They will not be available in the live draft and will need to be selected in Phase 2 or via free agency.
    • Players who are in ESPN and not in BWB: Typically these are rookies who weren't on the 40-man roster in December to be picked up on the BWB list or perhaps some late-signing international player or a player making a comeback from injury or returning from Japan that didn't make the 40-man cut.  BWB will attempt to identify any notable players ahead of time and not allow those players to be drafted.  If such a player is drafted however:
      • If discovered during the draft: If the BWB office can halt/correct the draft while in process, at the end of the current round the draft will be paused.  The player will be removed from the team's roster and that team will have a chance to make an immediate correction pick - but only from the available undrafted players at that moment (can't go back and select a player that another team picked after the bad pick occurred).
      • If discovered after the draft is over: Before the Phase 2 lists are opened up for submission, BWB will get a substitute pick from that team to replace the player not yet in BWB.  If multiple teams are affected, they will pick in order of when the bad picks are placed.
  • Salary cap problems
    • Since the players in the draft rooms we'll be using won't have salaries attached, it will be up to the drafting owners to keep salary in mind as they draft players. They'll need to do this for their own balance and to ensure they have enough cash left to fill out the team in Phase 2.
    • Following the live draft, each team will have 20 players out of a minimum roster of 26 players.  So when the draft is complete, each team will need to have at least 600 left in salary to draft 6 minimum-salary players to complete the roster.
      • If, after the draft is complete, it is determined that the team has less than 600 in cash, then before Phase 2 begins, that team will have player(s) removed from the back end of their draft until the cash balance is sufficient to complete a 26-man roster using minimum-salary players.  Once that is accomplished, the team will pick player(s) to get to a 20-man roster.  (This will probably be just one player, but it's possible that it could be more).
      • If the mistake is found during the course of the draft that causes the team to run out of cash or not have enough cash left to fill out their team, then if the draft can be paused/corrected, BWB will make the change as above for a mismatched player list - at the completion of the current round, the draft will be halted.  The team's last pick (or picks) will be removed to resolve the situation to provide enough cash to fill out the roster with minimum-salary players.  The team will then provide substitute pick(s) from the current list of undrafted players.
    • BWB will NOT correct drafts for salaries that leave the team with little cash for remaining picks during the live draft or for Phase 2.  As long as the team has enough cash to fill out the roster with players at minimum salary, that's what it will have to use.
    • Suggestion: As the draft proceeds, when you pick a player for your team, use another browser/window to add that player to the BWB draft list used to collect Phase One drafts.  You'll need to do that anyway to report your draft results and as you add players, it will automatically calculate the amount of salary cap space remaining.

9.6 League Package Drafts

New BWB leagues that join as a full 16-team league are welcome to conduct their own drafts upon joining and devise their own methods for how many players to select and other draft rules. They'll just need to fit into certain guidelines and then report the results to the BWB office.


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