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May 29, 2013

Sporer Report

Trading Tips

by Paul Sporer

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As we approach June 1, trading is no doubt becoming a bigger part of league activity for the season. Two months have passed, allowing you to start assessing your team’s strengths and flaws, but injuries and, more than anything else, impatience often fuels trade talks. With that in mind, I wanted to offer up some tips to hopefully improve your trading experience when you start firing up talks.

Don’t tell the league to make you offers on your guys: If you are serious about improving your team via the trade, then sending a mass email with guys you’re willing to part with followed by a call to action for other owners to engage you for those players isn’t the way to go. Rarely do emails that announce the availability of a team’s best players make such an impact that other owners are compelled to do the legwork on a hypothetical deal.

There is one exception: If you are engaged in talks to trade either your blue chip prospect (as you are contending and playing for now) or moving your stud(s) to build for the following year, it behooves you and the rest of the league to announce your intentions in a league-wide email so that you give everyone a fair shot at the guy(s) in question and also get yourself the best deal possible. Now, you don’t have to do this, but there’s zero downside for you. You can let the initial trade partner know at the outset, “Hey, I’m going to give everyone a crack here, but I like the deal we’re discussing,” and he/she should be totally cool with that. Meanwhile, you let the league know, “Hey, there is a leader in the clubhouse for the services of player X; if you’re interested please let me know, otherwise I’ll be moving forward. I just wanted to give everyone an equal shot at this high-quality asset.” Again, there is just no downside for you to do this.

Don’t downplay the guys you’re getting in an attempt to advance the negotiation: The minute you start sending me emails telling me how bad my players that you want are or will be in the future is the minute I know you’re a) lying to get the deal you want or b) stupid, because you’re purposely taking on bad assets. I highly doubt it’s ever b), so ditch the negativity and just play it straight up.

Do try to make sure the deal is even for both sides: The definition of “even” is ambiguous without question, but the goal is to make sure that both owners come out of a deal feeling they made their team better. Win-win trades are absolutely the way to go. If you purposely try to rip someone off in a trade, you’re burning a bridge and possibly losing a trade partner for rest of his/her time in that league, if not several leagues. Remember the old adage, a satisfied customer might tell two or three other friends, but a dissatisfied customer will definitely tell 10 or more. If you become known as the rip-off artist in the league, you will have a hard time consistently winning unless you draft perfectly and then ace the waiver wire all season long.

Now, obviously some deals will work out much more in one team’s favor by the time you analyze them at season’s end, but that doesn’t mean they were rip-jobs when consummated. What I’m focusing on here is trading hurt assets, taking advantage of breaking news that everyone might not be privy to, and things of that ilk. I understand it is every owner’s responsibility to do his/her diligence before making a deal, and they’d have no one to blame but themselves if they got hosed, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still hit your credibility. If you make people afraid to trade with you, you may benefit in the short term with that first rip-off trade, but you’ll do way more harm to your chances in the long term.

Do put thought into your offers: When sending an offer, focus more on the guy you’re trading with than yourself. You know how no one wants to hear about your fantasy team when you’re telling them about it at a party? The same thing applies when you start off a proposal discussing the guys you want your trade partner to give up. Begin by letting them know what they can get out of dealing with you. “It looks like you need some stolen bases, which I can definitely supply. I think you might be interested in Everth Cabrera. Meanwhile, I was thinking about a trade of Cabrera for _____, which would work well for both of us. You’re 12 steals away from six points and then another handful away from another group of points,” or something to that effect. In that scenario, you’ve made just a cursory mention of who you want while focusing the attention on how much they can benefit from talking trade with you.

Do respond to ALL offers: There’s nothing like sending out an offer and getting crickets. Just respond, it doesn’t take long. I’ll go so far as to say that even if the offer is utter garbage in your eyes, simply reply saying, “No thanks, that doesn’t improve my team and the offer would need A TON of work to get talks going” is important. That’s direct without being entirely rude, and it gets home the point that he/she’s nowhere near a trade with the track he/she is on.

Don’t veto trades: Okay, maybe I shouldn’t make a 100 percent blanket statement, as there are some outlandish situations where it may be called for, but by and large, vetoes are utter bullcrap. Don’t impress your player values on the rest of the league. What if at the end of April last year, someone was buying into Edwin Encarnacion’s surge and decided to move Tim Lincecum for him because he thought Lincecum’s struggles were legitimate?  You may not like it and you may not have accepted the deal if you were the Lincecum owner, but there isn’t something overly objectionable about that deal even before hindsight, because we don’t know the reasoning behind the Lincecum owner making the move. Maybe he’s a better scout than you are and wants to roll the dice.

Who are you to say he can’t? Maybe he thought Lincecum just wasn’t going to put it together as the season went on (and of course now we know he didn’t). The point is, he paid his money and unless you can prove collusion (and good luck doing that), it’s a deal that has to pass. That’s an extreme example, but few things about this game piss me off more than trade vetoing, especially in a cash league where adults have paid to manage their team however they desire. Just because you might not make a move doesn’t mean it’s unequivocally wrong. Unless you’ve got a collusion charge that will stick, stop vetoing trades. It’s pathetic. You don’t know the future any more than any other league-mate so stop pretending you do.

Don’t tell the league to make you offers on your guys: Yes, I’m repeating this one, but it’s important. “Hey guys, I need power and I have Mediocre Guy A, Schlub B, and Washout C available for trade. Send me offers!  Thanks.”  Yeah, no. And it’s not much better if it’s Star A, Stolen Base King B and Ace Arm C, either. It’s just that it’s usually less-than-inspiring guys being made available and the other owner now wants me to do the work for him.

Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Paul's other articles. You can contact Paul by clicking here

20 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

dillon415

I was just offered Kemp for my Choo and don't know how I feel about it or what to do. Advice? Dig the article. I've been guilty of a couple of these before.

May 29, 2013 03:11 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

I tell ya, dillon, I don't think I'd do it. I love Choo this year and I lose more and more confidence in Kemp every day.

May 29, 2013 04:31 AM
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

BTW that confidence for this year. I think once healthy again, he'll be fine, but that might not happen until 2014.

May 29, 2013 04:31 AM
 
fairseth

Keeper league or not?

May 29, 2013 04:50 AM
rating: 1
 
dillon415

Not a keeper, and after rejecting it he sent another one for Carlos Gonzalez.

May 29, 2013 22:12 PM
rating: 0
 
dillon415

Sorry... Gomez.

May 29, 2013 22:13 PM
rating: 0
 
hoopoe16

Great article...Though it wasn't mentioned as such, this article was peppered with "trade ethics." Any thoughts on what (if any) actions to take when the guy you've just sent to another team gets hurt shortly after the deal?

May 29, 2013 05:02 AM
rating: 0
 
swarmee

Absolutely nothing. Even saying "sorry I traded you that guy" is going to be seen as just rubbing it in.

May 29, 2013 06:14 AM
rating: 0
 
boards

I agree this is a common sense approach to trade ethics. I try to abide by most of these suggestions.

While most/all of the owners in my league will email one or two targets and then keep everything quiet until a deal is done, I usually send a league-wide email with a carefully thought-out offer to each owner. Occasionally, someone doesn't like being played against the other owners. But it's the best way to get the best deal for my team. And if someone were to let me know what they were offering other teams, I wouldn't be the least bit offended if I couldn't make a better offer.

What really annoys me is owner A deciding to dump and the first you hear about it is the announcement that he's traded everyone.

May 29, 2013 07:23 AM
rating: 4
 
majnun

IMHO if the guy gets hurt after it was proposed but before you click Accept that is shady. Don't do that. If they are hurt after the fact, or both teams knew a guy was hurt and it turned out worse than was thought, that's life.

May 29, 2013 07:56 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

There isn't much to be done if it happens *right* after the deal. You're not obligated to take him back or anything of that nature. Nor should you feel obligated to send something over to "make it right". It's just luck of the draw and it was snake eyes for your trade partner.

Jun 06, 2013 08:53 AM
 
Mudeguy

The repeated tip about not making mass solicitations is a bit simplistic and ignores what such postings can accomplish. Such postings can create a demand for a particular position or make some less-attentive owners notice that they may need to shore up a category or two. Such postings may also be an intro to trading some other less flashy players.

For example, I have a pretty high level set of starters and a few closers who are iffy. I'd like to move maybe one of the lower level starters and an iffy closer to get a OF bat. So, I post all the big name starters to get their attention, then I'll follow up with targeted offers.

Also, mass postings can let other owners know that there may be competition. If you are stalled in negotiations for trading a big-name player, throw him in a list of a couple others offered for trade. You might get a little leverage.

What would also make an interesting article on trades is realizing how different owners go about their trades. For example, some don't like the automated click-and-send offers and prefer hashing it out over the phone. Others may prefer texting or fb messaging. I've discovered that finding the best communication method is often the first step to getting that blockbuster done. Any other thoughts on this?

May 29, 2013 08:09 AM
rating: 2
 
John Carter

Yeah, I'm thinking of getting a cell phone just for this.

May 30, 2013 09:16 AM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

I have found texts to be the quickest, most-efficient way to begin negotiations.

Jun 29, 2013 19:36 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Very through good advice - I've been playing in fantasy leagues for 24 years.

In addition to RSVP ASAP, let you colleagues know if you are going to be away (assuming you can do it securely without adding to the chances of getting your house robbed.)

Also: do not make a trade suggestion that is not a genuine offer without clearly stating it as such. There was one manager who on a couple occasions asked me (probably not the exact words), "would you trade So-and-so for What's-his-face?" I'd give it my thorough investigation, get back to him with a "Yes" both times, and he says, "oh, that wasn't a firm offer, I don't want to do it". That is incredibly annoying - and I felt like an idiot that he got me twice on it.

May 29, 2013 09:51 AM
rating: 2
 
Mudeguy

...and already have a little fishy on the line. Of course, dangling Darvish got him interested. He made a ridiculously low offer, but now I also know what players he's willing to part with. Talk him down, throw in one of those iffy closers and I'll plug my OF spot.

May 29, 2013 14:40 PM
rating: 0
 
beerd90210

I've just been offered Nolasco and Aramis Ramirez for Clayton Kershaw in a 5X5 no keeper, NL only league. by a guy who makes an annual tradition of picking up dudes on waivers like Nolasco and trying to flip them for superstars after they've had a good week or two. I appreciate the comment about always responding to trades, but I'm just going to let that one sit out there until he decides to cancel it. Everyone in the league has stories of the crap trades he offers and ignoring him seems the only option. At least the rest of us have a good laugh when we see each other, learning that we've all been offered Nolasco for our best player.

May 29, 2013 15:14 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

LOL that's not a very good offer. I might respond with a legit, but STEEP offer. His best bat and solid pitcher.

Jun 06, 2013 09:01 AM
 
John Carter

If anyone is still reading this and wants to read some more trading etiquette suggestions, an article in Scoresheetwiz (http://scoresheetwiz.tripod.com/id63.html) reiterates much of this and has a few more good rules. At the end is a link to an interesting discussion about retracting offers (http://scoresheetwiz.tripod.com/id111.html.)

May 30, 2013 11:19 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Mike Gianella
BP staff

Great piece Paul.

I'd add to your first bullet that if you send out a mass e-mail to the league, the most likely outcome is that you are going to get lowballed. I read this e-mails as "I am desperate to make a trade because I am dissatisfied with my team and really, really need to make a deal." I used to send blast e-mails on a regular basis but found that they were either completely ignored (as you suggest) or that the offers that came in were very poor. I used to blame opponents for making poor offers, but now I see it your way.

Jun 06, 2013 06:49 AM
 
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