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How to be the Consummate Trading Partner (Fantasy Baseball)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
May 18, 2020

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The art of negotiating trades stretches far beyond winning the deal. For long-term success, a fantasy manager must also master the crafts of decorum and fairness.

A cutthroat mentality will work from time to time, but it will also create enemies along the road. Try to manipulate and rip off the competition too many times, and they’ll eventually stop talking to you altogether.

These tips to being the ideal trade partner may not apply to high-rollers swimming with other sharks. However, the typical fantasy league is played among friends and family, or at least strangers who are just looking to have fun through a shared passion. This isn’t a blueprint to getting the best of every trade, but rather guidelines to ensuring your ability to painlessly make deals.

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Consider the Other Team’s Needs

There’s nothing worse than getting offered a closer when you’re already lapping the league in saves.

By not taking the time to consider your trading partner’s strengths and weaknesses, you’re conveying a lack of effort, as well as no regard to reaching a mutually beneficial accord. This will likely shut down talks before they ever get off the ground.

Besides, it’s just bad business. That closer is far more valuable to a team desperate for saves. Maybe the squad with plenty of relievers will pay more for a power bat instead.

Be sure to study a team’s roster before sending a proposal. While improving your club is obviously the primary objective, it needs to at least make sense for the other team. Don’t know what position/category the other person wants? Then either ask before submitting an offer or include a brief inquiry with your proposal.

Don’t Insult Anyone’s Intelligence

Fantasy veterans have likely heard every excuse imaginable for a terrible starting offer. You’ll never know until you try. I guess we just value these players differently. Hey, I had to start somewhere.

Sure, maybe you’ll get lucky one time and swindle some poor sap. The other 99 times, however, are going to lead to a swift rejection (occasionally in the form of no response) and hard feelings that derail any future discussion.

Try this exercise in empathy before submitting that first offer. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask, “Can I reasonably see them accepting?” An affirmative answer cannot be contingent on your trading partner being an idiot.

The casual gamer is now wiser (or at least more competent) than ever due to a vast array of resources available. Anyone can quickly lookup rankings, fire up a podcast, or even ask an expert for advice on Twitter. Heck, they might have seen or heard the same analysis that led you to reach out to them. Once they realize you’re trying to bamboozle them, they’ll either cut off communication — perhaps permanently — or send an equally insulting counter as retribution.

Unless you’re short on time or see a clear win-win proposition, don’t start with your best offer. Just lead with a respectable one that at least warrants contemplation and, if we’re getting greedy, an actual response even if they reject.

Don’t Be Pushy

The only thing worse than receiving an insulting offer is when a league mate doubles down and tries to sell you on that laughable proposal. You see, Mike Trout is an aging, injury-prone liability who doesn’t run much these days. Meanwhile, the No. 7 hitter, fringe prospect, and journeyman they are nobly sacrificing all have superstar potential. They may all be the next Trout! A smarter fantasy manager would know this.

Nobody wants to trade with a salesperson. If the player you’re trying to acquire was actually so terrible, you wouldn’t be trying to get him.

Don’t talk down to the other manager in an attempt to break their resolve. It’s one thing to say, “Hey, I noticed your pitching staff has gotten hit hard by injuries. Any interest in [Pitcher X]?” But don’t tell them they need to upgrade their awful rotation, especially if the starter you’re offering isn’t much better.

Furthermore, don’t nag after receiving a clear no. If someone tells you their superstar is untouchable, there’s no need to waste everyone’s time with more proposals. Thank them for their time and move on. And definitely don’t keep offering the same player if they already said they’re not interested.

Keep an Open Window for Communication

When a league isn’t super-competitive, the ease of getting in touch with someone can be the main factor in who to first contact.

Negotiating through offers on the league’s host site gets messy. Depending on your comfort with everyone in the league, seek another way — email, text/call, social media, a league group chat — to talk. And when someone reaches out, respond in a timely fashion.

Don’t leave any trade proposals or inquiries unanswered. This is admittedly easier said than done, as life often gets in the way. Eventually, your league mates will tire of waiting for a response and give up after getting ghosted. Think of how frustrating an ignored offer is from that side.

Rather than waiting around for someone else to make the first move, it’s often easier to simply take the initiative. Just like J. Walter Weatherman taught the Bluth children, always leave a note. An offer with an accompanying message is more likely to start a dialogue or elicit a counter.

Be Kind

This is just good life advice for everyone.

Some gamers are out for blood. Perhaps that ruthlessness is necessary for a high-stakes gamer. That won’t fly, however, when competing against friends, family, coworkers, or anyone you’ll have to encounter outside of fantasy baseball. Oh yeah, you also don’t want to make any foes in a keeper or dynasty league, where it’s especially important to establish amicable relationships.

Be polite, and stay civil when an agreement can’t be reached. Even if talks went down the drain this time, a respectful conversation keeps the door open for future discussions.

If it’s clear you actually have their interests in mind, they will be more likely to reach out to you the next time they’re looking to make a move. This could especially come in handy in establishing a frequent dynasty trading partner. Heck, even in a re-draft, a league mate out of the running will prefer trading with a kind soul than a first-place competitor who keeps making horrid three-for-one offers.

This isn’t a reality TV show. You can be here to make friends. Even if you’re only playing fantasy baseball to win, nobody wants to deal with a jerk.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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