Fantasy baseball trades, as we have discussed previously, tend to happen at certain times. They happen after the last of the big free agents sign in the offseason, right before the keeper deadline, and right before the league’s trading deadline. More than anything though, at least in the leagues in which I participate, trades happen on the day of weekly transaction. For many leagues, this day is Sunday. These days, especially at this time of the year in leagues with active trade markets, are fun days. If we’re lucky, the messages, emails, and texts are flying as we see what is out there and try to improve our team.
The not so fun part about this phenomenon is that it can make the other days of the week a bore. Teams will often push out trade talks until the weekend. Besides making these days inactive, it can also cause us to miss out on trades as waiting until the weekend or Sunday (we’ll just refer to it as Sunday from here on out) often leaves us with too little time to hammer out deals. Given all this, we will take a look at why this (trading happening on a particular day) happens, the consequences of this, and what, if anything, we can do about it.
Why we trade on Sundays
It’s, as you likely guessed, the usual suspects: league norms and fear. Why is trading on Sundays a league norm? For starters, it makes things easier—some participants do not want to mull and negotiate trades all week. Fear is likely also a cause for this league norm. No one wants to make a trade on a Tuesday only to have the player acquired hit the disabled later in the week before the acquired player is even on one’s roster. This sounds awful because it is terrible. But terrible compared to what? Put differently, is it any worse than making a trade on a Sunday only to see an acquired player get hurt the next week? Of course it is no worse. But waiting until Sunday, when we can guarantee a player will be healthy when transferred onto our team, somehow seems less scary.
The consequence of trading only trading on Sundays
So while we think we know why prefer to trade on Sundays, the question then becomes whether this matters when it comes to winning and losing. If everyone in a league waits until Sunday to make, then there is really nothing we can do about it (except when trades are missed due to lead time) and nothing to really discuss. If, however, some members of our league trade throughout the week, while we only trade on Sundays, then we will be at a disadvantage.
Because an injury or a hot (or cold) streak could alter, create, or destroy a trade market overnight, and because of the limited trade options in most fantasy baseball leagues, teams that do trade during the week do not often have the luxury to pass on beneficial trades in hope for a slightly better trade on Sunday. The consequence of waiting until Sunday is thus twofold. First, as mentioned, we miss out on opportunities. Secondly, we allow those in similar competitive situations as us (if we are selling, then other sellers) to get better deals because we did not affect the market.
Obviously, if our competition is competing in the weekday trade market, while we are not, then we should try to do so if we have the time. If we are hesitant, not because of the effort required, but because of the perceived risk, we should remember try to remind ourselves that any trade comes with the risk of losing the players we are trading for. If we do not find comfort in that, we should remind ourselves that not trading players also carries risk—just as an acquired player can get hurt and player could lose trade value by getting hurt, traded, etc. We should also remind ourselves that while our loss averse nature makes us tend to lean towards inactivity when it comes to the trade market, we (people) actually come to regret mistakes made via inactivity more than we do mistakes made via activity. So, not only is getting involved in the weekday trade market to our advantage (if such markets exist in out leagues), but we will regret our actions less when looking back.
As for those of us already active in trade talks throughout the week, the challenge becomes how to handle leaguemates that will not trade until Sunday. Well, we can send them this article, but they might be wary of our intentions. It likely that there is nothing we can do to get these leaguemates to change their behavior. The question then becomes whether we should wait until Sundays for more supply and potentially better deals or whether we should make lesser, albeit still beneficial, trades to ensure that we improve our teams in some way. To me, this depends on two things: (i) how much risk there is in the trade market collapsing dissolving (usually very low) and (ii) how much benefit there is to waiting. The second consideration is usually very low as people are hesitant to make trades in general, but there are certain instances—usually depending on the leaguemates involved—where waiting is worth it. Ultimately, this just another factor to weigh in our strategic analysis going forward; and while it is not the most important factor, it is one that can improve our decision making if weighed properly.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now