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Rule Changes for 2017

Benchwarmer Baseball Rules Index

As the season and then off season progresses, check here for the latest changes to rules

Last update:  March 1, 2017

The written version of the rule book is also available, but it is a few years old.  If there is a conflict, the online version is now the guide.

Here are the last rule changes in 2016 ...

Listing of all rules changes

Roster Composition Change

Added 1/18/17

Taxi Squad increased from 2 players to 4 players

In a 2017 change, the number of possible taxi squad spots you can fill increases from 2 to 4.  The overall roster size is maintained at 40, so this means the minor league slots are reduced from 12 to 10.


This requires some modifications on several of the rules pages, but for reference purposes, you can refer to the full rule regarding rosters and roster maximums.

1.0 Basics

1.1.3 Orphan Teams at League Creation

New rule added 4/25/17 - codifying past practice

Existing rule 1.1.3 renumbered as 1.1.4

See the full rule

Occasionally, in order to get a league to a full 16 teams and into the draft process, BWB will set up orphan franchises to fill up the league.  This is typically around 1 to 3 orphan teams depending on the situation.  Usually this happens in mid-to-late March for a partially-filled league, but sometimes it may occur earlier in the process if BWB feels that getting the league moving is beneficial.


In a 2017 change, rather than BWB developing the draft list, it will pick a random draft list from another league that has drafted in that same season - making sure that any randomly-selected list is not from one of the new league's current owners.  BWB does reserve the right to adjust the list after selection to remove injured players, pick additional players if the random list was light or left a lot of cash unspent, and to add/adjust draft bidding and draft ranks.


Teams set up as orphans for league creation will not be awarded the extra $4 million in cash when a real person takes over that team in the league's first season.  Orphan cash is provided to allow new owners to fix problems with existing franchises and to help remake the team roster in the new owner's vision - but in the initial season, adding that extra cash will be a competitive disadvantage in a league where everyone started from scratch.  If the team remains an orphan, it will be awarded extra cash when the team is adopted in the next season.

1.4.1 Price Reductions for Long-time Leagues

Added 4/25/17 - Effective for the 2018 season

See the full rule

To reward private leagues for longevity, prices will be reduced for league packages based on how long they have existed.  Many of the owners in these private leagues are in multiple leagues and often have purchased Season Tickets or Cooperstown Club memberships.

Seasons in BWB Price*
1-5 $650
6-10 $500
11-15 $400
16+ $250

*Based on 2017 pricing.  If league package prices change, these discounted prices will be modified as well with similar discounts.


For reference, in the 2018 season, these private leagues will be entering season....Beer League - #12; Murderers' Row - #9; Moneyball - #6

9.0 Building a Team - The Startup Draft

Added 1/4/17

See the full rule

Phase One Draft - Submission

Instead of adding 10000 to the team balances between Phase 1 and Phase 2, all startup drafts will begin in Phase 1 with team cash equal to the BWB salary cap + 10000.  Comment: The 10,000 was a workaround added in 2005 after we started increasing the top players' salaries to counteract the effect of signing long-term contracts.  New teams didn't have the benefit to start with expensive players on cheaper contracts, so we added the extra cash.  It's been over 10 years - the added cash is permanent - it's time to have it available up front.



9.1.1 Phase One - Submission

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

  • Several bullet points here....
  • The salaries of the players must fit within the salary cap. 2017 Change (addition to this bullet point in the rules): 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

Phase One Draft - Resolution

Changes to Cash Bids to Break Ties in Player Awards

A few changes to how auction bids work:

  • Bids can be placed in increments of 250 now instead of 500
  • Because we're giving the extra 10,000 cash up front, your cash bids need to come out of your starting cash balance and not out of the Phase 2 cash distribution - your total salaries for all players drafted + the total you put down for auction must fit within the New Team Salary Cap (BWB cap + 10,000)
  • When you win a tiebreaker via auction bid, you only need to pay the amount needed to win the bid over the next-highest bidder

See the full rule to view these changes in context


9.2 Phase Two

One quick change - since the 10,000 cash is provided up front, we remove the first bullet that indicates all teams get an extra 10,000 before Phase 2 begins


See the full rule to view this bullet point stricken


9.5 Live Drafts

Added 3/1/17 - See the full rule

9.5.1 Live Drafts in 2017

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.


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