Fantasy Baseball Trade Deadline 101: A Former MLB GM’s Take
As the MLB trade deadline looms, a similar zero hour awaits most fantasy owners as the last big chance to improve their team’s fortunes is about to slip away. What is the key to making a move to push one’s team over the top? A former MLB executive explains how fantasy should mirror reality.
Pulling off a trade in Major League Baseball takes a great deal of work. No matter if it is a process which slowly comes together over a few months, or one quickly culminated in days (or even hours at the trade deadline), the effort to make sure the deal is right involves intense focus and numerous man hours, normally by many people in addition to the GM.
While readers probably don’t have a staff at their disposal to help research trades for a fantasy team, one can still make a trade deadline deal with a little effort. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the internet makes trading easy. Just update the “on the block” page, select “offering SV” and “need HR & RBI.” Uh, thank you, Captain Obvious. One look at the standings shows that the team next to last in HR and RBI and leading the league in saves by a large margin needs to deal. Now that owner wants somebody else to do the work and fix this problem?!? C’mon, man!
Oh, sure, few offers may trickle in, but is it really best to have a rival owner do all of the work when it comes to a trade? Forget “posting” the names of categories or players you have available to deal away. The best way to really improve a fantasy team through a trade and have the best chance of competing is to turn the tables on what all too often seems to be the standard practice in today’s fantasy game. That is, reverse the process and do the other owner’s work for them! We want to make it as easy and painless as possible for a prospective trade partner to pull the trigger and here are few tips for doing just that.
Survey The Landscape At The Trade Deadline
First, examine the standings to determine what teams have excess in and area of need. (Note: Even if throwing in the towel this season, owners are in need of top prospects and will only benefit from identifying the prospects personally—with the help of ROTOscouting.com, of course—and then aggressively targeting them in deals.) Next, determine where the target team is short and what can be offered to help them improve. Remember, this potential trade partner does not really care about a mutually beneficial deal, but rather how this is going to help them.
Also keep in mind life is busy and negotiating a trade is something else to do after putting in overtime at work, spending time with the kids and completing the honey-do list which never ends. The majority of owners in a league probably don’t have the time or the will to structure a meaningful “win-win” trade.
This brings up an important point. Every trade needs to be win-win for both owners to some extent. Of course the goal is to “win” trades , but if the other side consistently feels like a “loser,” the “winner” will soon have nobody left to trade with. Who wants to make trades with a “rip-off artist”?
Working The Sale
Once the framework of a deal is in mind, it’s time to start selling. Don’t simply text or e-mail a plain offer. Start the dialogue by sending a cordial message, or better yet, pick up the phone (old school!). “Hey, how’s the summer going?” “Been playing golf?” “Take the family to the Hamptons again?” “How’s the wife and kids?”
Once softened up, It’s time to prime the pump. “Hey, I was looking over the standings and if you added some saves to your team, you could really make a move in the standings! It just so happens that I have an extra closer I could part with (What a coincidence!) and I would be happy to help you out if I could just get a little power to add to my punch-&-judy lineup.” (That’s right, talk down your team—Do not let on how this deal is going to make it better. Make the prey, er, trade partner feel like the “smart” one in this deal—Sell, baby sell!) “Tell you what, if you trade me Johnny Slugger, I see you have Jimmy Pasthisprime almost ready to come off your disabled list, so you would hardly lose anything in hitting, while you stand to gain a lot in saves.” (Show them how it’s a no-brainer!)
The last key to making the plan work is the “kicker.” No, I’m not talking fantasy football. The kicker is the little sweetener purposefully held back to throw in and close the deal—something which appears to swing the trade in the other fantasy baseball owner’s favor. This same sort of thing is done in MLB all the time to help get deals done. Often you will see trades that include “a player to be named later” (PTBNL). This allows the principal part of the deal to get completed while one team is able to get something else based on some mutually agreed upon criteria (for instance, they may have a certain period of time to scout a specific list of players from which to choose).
In fantasy, while a PTBNL is probably not an option to closing the deal, perhaps it is a mid-level prospect who’s a little too far away to be of use, or a setup reliever with some good ERA/WHIP numbers, but who can be replaced relatively easily. Perhaps suggest both teams add a player (expand the deal) in a way which gives the perception of swinging the “win” to the other owner. Don’t start with the best offer, but don’t start with an insulting one either. (That’s a good recipe for trade talks being quelled before they start.)
Give it a try. As the fantasy baseball trade deadline approaches, roll up your sleeves and do a little homework. Then put your plan in action. I am confident it will result in not only a more successful fantasy team, but a more fulfilling fantasy experience.
28 Jul 2014 / Brad Kullman /
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