I've gotten a couple questions recently about the MWR violations so I wanted to address some of those questions, and hopefully more.
We had two MWR violations this season, and a couple other teams not-so-subtly gunning for low win totals. For the MWR, Portland only won 45 games, and over two seasons Houston only won 114 games. The Houston owner in particular was newer to HBD, and I've had a couple people message me asking for leniency. The rules, as constructed, do not allow for this, specifically because a 55/120/185/260 win minimum should not be difficult to meet, even for a new player. Furthermore, the fact that a handful of other teams are clearly trying to NOT be competitive should underline how important a definitive MWR really is.
On that note, I had multiple owners message me last season about teams giving bad players 500+ ABs in the Majors, players that would struggle to get a .600 OPS in the minors; I have had messages about owners playing left-handed fielders in the infield with plenty of better options available; I've seen teams start players with terrible righty splits against only right-handed pitchers. As far as I know, we've avoided the dreaded "catcher at shortstop" so far. But as much as I would like to create rules to eliminate this behavior, these are ultimately subjective measures. In the past I've personally been accused of tanking for starting a gold glove SS who could barely OPS .600; and for starting a bad catcher in RF because he was such an offensive stud. I thought these were good decisions that benefit my team, and other owners saw it differently, which is completely within their rights. This game is ultimately about allowing YOU to control your team. It's extremely difficult to draw a line regarding what personnel moves dictate an intentional attempt at fielding a bad team, and I certainly won't claim my own preferences toward competitive balance are "right" or even held by the majority.
That said, a Minimum Win Requirement is not subjective. Sure, it doesn't care if you are making an earnest shot at winning but have had bad luck. But it also avoids forcing me/you all to make a guess at an owner's intent.
So, the MWR is an attempt at drawing that line between a bare-minimum effort at fielding a competitive team, and actively trying to lose. If you miss the MWR, the fact that you inherited a particularly bad team is not an excuse. Having bad veteran contracts is not an excuse. Getting hit with injuries is not an excuse. This game is ultimately about luck and is full of unknowns, so if you're at all concerned you are headed for a MWR violation, err on the side of winning too many, and ask for advice and/or spend some money. We all know the best way to create a powerhouse team is to cut salary and accumulate high draft picks/expensive IFAs -- but if doing so causes you to miss the MWR, too bad.
I understand the need for a rebuild, and the fine line between not trying to win and actively trying to lose -- hell I just traded my World Series-winning starting rotation to get a head-start on a rebuild. But the MWR is designed to remove any subjective judgment from the process. To those truly struggling to build a MWR-safe team, let me know if you need help -- myself and several other owners would be happy to lend some advice. To those intentionally shooting for the MWR, that is a skill in itself, and I wish you a sarcastic good luck.