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August 13, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

How to Handle 'Dump Trades'

by Derek Carty

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On Thursday, I discussed my views on non-contenders trading with contenders in fantasy leagues and whether or not there should be special considerations when making such deals.  Naturally, this evolved into a discussion in the comments section on how this applies to keeper leagues versus redraft leagues, leading reader brucegilsen to request:

Derek, I think you should post an article about your take on dumping. It should lead to an interesting discussion. My 24-year-old 4x4 25/280 NL only league uses an in-season salary cap to prevent contenders from building $500 super teams and it would be fun to discuss on here.

While I don’t think a league’s rules should ever be left up to a single person, if I were creating a keeper league myself, I would definitely take a very laissez-faire approach to the matter.  The same as I’m against trade vetoes, I am (for the most part) for so-called “dump trades.”  If an owner is in a position to win a championship this season, I believe it should be fully within his rights to sacrifice the future of his team to secure a banner.  I’m fully aware that this is an unpopular opinion among many people, but it’s how I feel, generally speaking.

Last week, I said that a team in contention shouldn’t have artificial limits put on its ability to make trades with non-contenders, and I feel the same logic applies to teams who are out of contention and want to offer up their non-keepable stars for long-term assets.  Sure, some may see it as unfair that one owner gets Justin Verlander and Josh Hamilton for a pair of B-level prospects, but his competitors have the exact same opportunity to trade for Verlander and Hamilton or to respond with trades of their own.  Yes, maybe it becomes an arms race, but there’s still skill in that. There’s the skill of posturing, negotiating, and such when making these deals.  There’s the skill of setting your team up for this situation (i.e. acquiring enough long-term assets along the way for use in stretch-run dump trades).  There’s the skill of evaluating your position once July and August roll around—do I have enough ammo for this arms race, and if not, do I have a big enough to warrant weathering the storm? Or is it smarter to sell?

This being said, I wouldn’t necessarily be against some form of regulation on dump trades.  Nothing extreme, but something to help maintain a semblance of competitive balance might not be bad.  Reader brucegilsen’s league uses a salary cap.  Other leagues, like reader eliyahu’s, use a reverse salary cap (aka salary minimum).  An idea of mine would be to penalize teams for finishing below a certain threshold.  Go ahead and dump trade all you like, but for every roto point below 40 (or whatever) that you finish, you’re going to lose $10 in next year’s auction. This helps keep dump-trading in check while simultaneously allowing owners to make some interesting strategic decisions.

I can see the other side of this argument that many make, and I think the side of the fence where each individual person falls really comes down to what that person is hoping to get out of the fantasy baseball experience, what kind of game they want to be playing.  Some want it to mirror real-life baseball as much as possible.  Some simply want it to be as much fun as possible.  There are an infinite number of reasons for playing fantasy baseball, and these reasons will dictate a person’s thoughts on this matter.  There are no right or wrong answers here, but I’m sure it will still make for some interesting discussion.  Take it away, guys…

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