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This past week in the CardRunners Fantasy Baseball Experts League, I was extremely active on the trade market, making a total of four deals before Tuesday night’s weekly deadline, all involving elite players. Today, I wanted to discuss one of the trades I made, the alternatives I had, and the reasoning for making the trade, which I think will be applicable to all fantasy leagues.

This past Friday, I sent out a league-wide e-mail announcing that Dan Haren was officially for sale. I’d been shopping him a little bit, but I wanted the league to know that he was going to get traded and give everyone a chance at making an offer. Being that this is an AL-only league, it’s very difficult to find a starter as good as Haren this late in the season. Here’s what my e-mail said:

Dan Haren to Be SOLD for Best Hitter Offered
I think I'm pretty set on trading Dan Haren for offense, and I'm going to be taking bids. I'll trade him to whatever team can offer the best hitting upgrade. It doesn't matter what position. Haren + one of my hitters for your superior hitter at the same position.

Offers came rolling in. Some were underwhelming (Travis Snider—though that one was, at least partially, a joke from an owner bitter at an earlier trade I’d made), while others held promise. The first offer that I really considered to be decent was from Clark Olson, a rocket scientist and a two-time ESPN Uber Challenge winner. Clark offered Miguel Cabrera for Haren and Edwin Encarnacion. The dilemma here was that Clark is in first place. At the time, I was in third with aspirations of taking home a title (now I’m up to second). Making a deal with your primary competition is a risky game indeed.

I received a couple more nibbles, then got an e-mail from “Rotoman” and Tout Wars board member Peter Kreutzer. After going back and forth a bit and ruling out the injury-prone Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista’s name came up. As anyone who follows me knows, I’m a big Bautista fan and have been since the offseason.

With this as leverage, I went to see if Clark could do any better. After all, I want to make the best deal possible, but it’s also only fair to allow those who have made serious offers the chance to improve them. Not being afforded this opportunity is one of my biggest fantasy baseball pet peeves.

In the end, Clark offered up an additional exchange of J.J. Hardy for Aaron Hill. Peter’s final offer ended up being Bautista, Andrew Miller, Josh Bell, and $15 FAAB for Haren, Juan Rivera, and Chone Figgins. It was decision time.

There were two sides to consider in contemplating Clark’s offer, entirely separate of the value of the players themselves. You see, if I had given Haren to Clark, he probably would have gained four points in strikeouts, as many as five points in wins, one point in ERA, and probably would have passed me in WHIP for a two-point swing. However, since my plan was to load up on offense (which I successfully enacted with this and my two subsequent trades), taking Miggy from him would have been beneficial. Clark currently leads the league in RBI and runs, but if I am able to pass him in both, that’s a four-point swing in my direction. Without Miggy, that may have been possible. If I went with Peter’s offer, though, he’d likely be out of reach. I also knew he had been shopping Miggy and that he could end up trading him for pitching anyway, regardless of whether it was for Haren.

This all made for a very complicated situation. Eventually, I decided that I liked Bautista better than Cabrera and would prefer to move Rivera over Encarnacion, so I went with Peter’s offer. While making a run at that four-point RBI/R swing would have been nice, it wasn’t worth all the pitching points an extra elite starter would have given Clark. Maybe he ends up trading Cabrera for a starter anyway, but it will at least be down the line when some time has elapsed and he’ll derive less value from the starter, who could very well end up being worse than Haren.

This is the kind of thinking that all fantasy owners hoping to win a championship must engage in when making trades at this time of year. If a trade helps you gain a few points in the standings, it can still hurt you if it helps your primary competitor gain even more points.

In case you were curious about all four of the trades I made this week in an attempt to secure offense, here they are. Feel free to make remarks in the comments section:

Trade #1
Casey Kotchman, Maicer Izturis, and Ezequiel Carrera
Asdrubal Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, and Juan Rivera

Trade #2
Dan Haren, Juan Rivera, and Chone Figgins
Jose Bautista, Adam Miller, Josh Bell, and $15 FAAB

Trade #3
Asdrubal Cabrera, Jeff Francis, and Greg Halman
Elvis Andrus, A.J. Burnett, Brian Matusz, and $10 FAAB

Trade #4
Michael Pineda, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jemile Weeks
Victor Martinez, Maicer Izturis, and David Robertson

I also added Brandon Allen for $68 and Joaquin Benoit for $1 ($260 FAAB budget for the year). 

Thank you for reading

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Not a big fan of Trade #3, unless you can make up several points in SB.

On the other hand, I think you got Asdrubal, JoeyBats, and VMart relatively cheaply.
Yes. I'm currently 3rd best in steals, but the top 2 are the other guys in the top 3 overall, so it's essentially when I gain the point myself, I take it away from them, essentially making it worth two points for each one. I also was losing Weeks, and Revere may lose a bit of playing time, so I wanted to make sure I was solid in a category that the three of us are competing in. I also think I'm in great shape HR wise.
Thanks for sharing. I don't participate in AL leagues, but the rationale for your deals (thought process) is quite interesting.
Think you killed on trades 1 & 2. Really like trade 4, and don't really like 3, but since you need the steals it makes sense. Kind of hard to believe that people made these trades with you. They must be really bad.
Not sure why anyone would agree to trade one. I guess I'm just frustrated with silly deals that go through in trade leagues.
Sometimes deals can look funny out of context, but at this point in the season, all that matters is points in the standings. If you can make a deal that is a loss in terms of overall value, it can still be a beneficial deal. Maybe the other team looks bad in trade 1 or 2 the same as I may look bad in trade 3, but trade 3 helped me accomplish what I needed to do - get speed and a high-K SP at a reasonable price. Trades 1 and 2, while looking sub-optimal in a vacuum, probably helped the other teams in terms of what they needed to gain points in the standings.
Trade 2 looks fair, especially when considering the $15 faab. Not enough info was provided about the league (keepers?), but I'm assuming you started with $100 faab (as opposed to $1000). That money can help you land Lawrie.

Trade one, wow, I guess the guy needed steals, but it's not like Asdrubal is a slow coach. The 1st and 2nd best players in the deal are Asdrubal (the only star) and Encarnacion. One could make a case that Rivera is the third best.
Budget is $260, so $15 isn't an enormous amount, but guys like Lawrie are long, long gone. It's a 12-team AL-only league with 23-man active rosters, 4-man benches, and unlimited DL spots, so it's super deep. NLers can also be stashed in case they're traded over to the AL, as can minor leaguers. I'd emptied my budget entirely on Brandon Allen, though, so refilling to $25 to use on spare parts is useful.

He needed steals, batting average, and runs (to an extent) and had absolutely no use for power.