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How to Leverage Your Assets as a Non-Contender (Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Jun 10, 2020

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Knowing when to pull the plug on your season is crucial if you’re in a rebuild for fantasy. Sometimes, being the first to come to the conclusion that you just can’t compete gives you the best route to success in upcoming years.

But when you pull the plug, you can’t just decide to quit and be done for the season. No, not at all. You need to evaluate your team, look at the assets that you have, and see figure out how to get the most out of them by selling them to competitors. 

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Take inventory

Look at the players on your roster. Get a sense of who you want to move and who you think can give you the most value. The point of fantasy baseball — from the draft to in-season management — is finding as much value as you can.

If you’re limited in the number of players that you can retain from year to year, you should get an idea of who you want to retain and look to move the other players first.

Sometimes, it’s worth floating out those key core pieces, too, just to see if you can get an over-the-moon offer for them. Everyone has a price, after all, but make sure that it’s not just a quantity over quality move.

Too often, a manager will have a surplus of talent at a position, and they get stuck deciding which player they should keep and which player they should move. The simple answer is, if they are close enough in talent, cost, and long-term potential, you should float them both out there and take the best offer.

Know your realistic window 

It can be hard to look at your team and realize that it’s not that good. It’s natural for us to overrate our lineups, but being honest with ourselves about the state of things is key to long-term success. If you’re looking to move your assets as a non-contender to teams still in contention, you need to know what your goal is. 

Are you playing for the next year? Are you two or three years away from contending? Knowing the answer can help you when you’re deciding which players to target or move. For example, if you have a 33-year-old pitcher, and you’re two years away from contending, it makes sense to look to flip him, That’s because you’re unlikely to get a return on value from him when you actually need it.

Find a dance partner

You want to find a team that isn’t just contending, but one that has assets of value to you. You want to target teams who you know feel — realistically or not — that they are just a player or two away from contending.

Look at their rosters and see who may or may not be a good fit for both of you. Once you’ve done that, reach out to them about your thoughts and see if they want to play ball. 

Don’t be afraid to overpay

Get your guy. It’s true in the draft, as you should ignore ADP to ensure that you get the player you want, and it’s also true in trades. In dynasty and keeper leagues, you’ll see some wonky deals go through, but that’s the nature of the beast.

If a contending team has a young stud like a Bo Bichette, Chris Paddack, or Wander Franco, pay whatever it takes to get them. 

The goal is to maximize the return on your assets, so if you can get a top-15 dynasty asset, but it costs you your three best players, it’s probably a better return than if you traded each of them individually for potential top 50-75 dynasty assets.

Don’t be afraid to lose a trade

The cost of getting the player that you want is that it may not play out in your favor. You may overpay for a young stud or give up prospects for a player who can help you in the next year or two — only to look back at the deal in the future and see that it really didn’t work out.

If that happens, don’t play scared. Dust yourself off and trade again.

Make your moves early

We talked at length about the reasons you should make moves early here, but it’s worth repeating. 

By being a team who decides to sell early on, you:

  • Get a higher return on trades
  • Have more buyers
  • Can target under-the-radar players
  • Can acquire elite prospects 
  • Limit injury risk

Load up on draft capital

In long-term leagues, you should always look to acquire actual players who can help you in your given window, but don’t ignore the importance of draft picks, either. We can easily fall in love with prospects too much, and we can find ourselves in a constant wash-rinse-repeat circle of never contending. However, first-year player draft picks can be valuable trade assets to include as sweeteners if you’re close to contending! Or, if you have a few years to go, you can draft the stud prospects who are knocking on the big-league door that can help your fantasy team in the near future.

One thing to consider when looking at players to draft in the first-year player pool is their trade value. If someone has a lot of helium behind them, such as a young Jasson Dominguez, they become a more valuable trade asset than a real-life asset for your team.

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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