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April 23, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

The Benefits of Early-Season Trade Talk

by Jeff Quinton


What follows below is the first of a three part series about negotiation. Like my previous strategy and decision making pieces, this series will not provide a panacea and it will not have broad, sweeping answers. The purpose of these articles is to get us to understand how we (humans) negotiate and, thus, allow us to improve our ability to negotiate.

Why am I qualified to give advice on the topic of negotiation? I am not quite sure. After being on the wrong end of several trades in a league consisting of lawyers and owners experienced at negotiating with those lawyers, I realized that I could know everything there is to know about baseball and still be unable to optimally improve my team through trade if I did not get better at negotiation. After learning the hard way and taking a couple negotiation classes, I have gotten a little bit better and have learned a lot. The hope is that these lessons can help you in your future negotiations.

Lastly, I reserve the right to make this more than a three-part series if I can think of more meaningful topics to discuss.

Why write an article that covers trade talk and negotiation when we are four to eight weeks away (depending on the league) from the beginning of peak trade season? Because if you do it right, the trade talks you have throughout the season can help you make better trades once the time to actually make a trade comes around. How so? Effective early season trade talks allows us to (1) inconspicuously anchor, (2) take advantage of the recency effect, and (3) reduce our transaction costs come trade time. By early-season trade talk I do not necessarily mean trying to make trades happen; rather, I mean talking shop with your leaguemates, asking them what they are looking for, asking if they are in the market for a specific type of asset, or even just talking to them about players outside of trade talks. I had always thought of such conversation as trivial and even disingenuous, but I learned the hard way that such conversation was necessary to improve my trade options. Moreover, I learned that this was just how humans operate. I realized that I was not making trades with virtual general managers on video games anymore and that the teams I wanted to be trading with were making trades with the teams that they had had open trade conversations with throughout the season. That said, let us take a look at the specific benefits of early season trade dialogue and how we can make sure to recognize and capitalize on them.

1. Inconspicuous Anchoring: By having ongoing trade discussions with your leaguemates, you can opportunistically anchor them to their own words when it comes time to make a trade.

Many of you already know what anchoring is and what its benefits are, but for those who do not, I will explain briefly. Anchoring is our tendency to make decisions around certain, often arbitrary, pieces of information. As a negotiation tactic, anchoring is attempting to start the negotiation at the highest possible value if you are selling or the lowest possible value if you are buying. For example, let us say you are not in contention and want to sell an expiring contract that will be of no use to you next season. You would take the smallest of future values back for this piece (let us say a 19th-round pick for a 20th round in next year’s draft), but if you can start the trade talks off by discussing a fifth-rounder for a sixth rounder, then you will have a better chance of landing a 14th-rounder for a 15th-rounder than if you started out asking for a 14th rounder.

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Related Content:  Trades,  Fantasy,  Negotiation

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Notes from the Field: ... (04/22)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Why... (04/21)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Tra... (04/28)
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