How to pull off a trade in your fantasy baseball leagues

Welcome to the initial 2024 edition of our trade tips series. For those who are unfamiliar with this series, each week during the regular season, yours truly will give you his best advice on which players to acquire and which ones to trade away. Along the way, I’ll also offer some big-picture concepts on navigating the trade market.

After all, I didn’t earn the nickname “Trader Fred” in the fantasy baseball industry without making plenty of deals.

This week, we are going to look at the best ways to navigate trade talks. For this article, we will assume that it is not a home league and that the managers do not have deep friendships with each other.

Start with an offer

Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t dip your toe in the water. Have some guts and start your trade talks by sending an actual offer. Maybe you’ll get lucky and wrap up a deal right away, but at the very least, a firm offer will provide a starting point for trade talks. Managers who start off with an email or message saying, “Would you consider trading Player X” are adding unnecessary steps and wasting everyone’s time.

Be concise in your explanation

The other manager doesn’t want to read a novel. But you have to send them something, as they can’t read your mind. The message accompanying your trade offer should be 1-3 sentences that explain the thought process behind your offer. Something like, “I thought that you may be interested in acquiring a second closer. I have three at the moment (Doval, Helsley and Jansen) and am willing to trade one of them to add a power hitter.”

Be open-minded

You'll notice in the preceding paragraph that I advertised all of my closers as potential trade candidates. This is a key component to making trades, as a closed-minded approach will cause managers to miss out on helpful deals. Of course, I wouldn't trade Camilo Doval or Kenley Jansen for the same power hitter. I would want a better hitter for Doval than for Jansen. But either reliever is available if the trade makes sense.

In fact, everyone on my roster is always available for the right return.

Unbalance your April roster

I’m sure that many of the dedicated managers who are reading this article took great care during their draft to get the right balance of power hitters, speedsters, starters and closers. And now that the shots are flying, my recommendation is to upset the apple cart by getting aggressive on the trade market. April is the time to acquire talent, even if it comes at the expense of a balanced roster. In fact, the best April deals will be ones where you can convince another manager to take a loss on overall value to balance their roster. You can worry about balancing your roster in July, once you have used the trade market and waiver wire to create a deep, talented group.

Target those with a surplus

An easy way to find places to shop for value is to look for managers who have a surplus of talent in one area, as they may be interested in giving up some value to use an area of strength to balance their roster. This is especially possible on the pitching side early in the season. The emergence of new closers will lead to some teams having a surplus of expected saves. And there may be some managers who are willing to trade away one of their foundational starters after finding some late-round or waiver wire hurlers who have enjoyed a dazzling initial outing.

Buy low and sell high

Many managers can find an optimistic view of struggling players and work up the courage to buy low. But selling high takes more guts. After all, these are players who the manager liked enough to draft. And it’s very satisfying to see them start their season in fine fashion. But trying to get a king’s ransom for the April overachievers is often the right move. After all, Patrick Wisdom (homers) and Ji Hwan Bae (steals) sat second in baseball in prominent fantasy categories at the end of last April.

Getting a respectable return for either of those men during the initial weeks of the 2023 campaign proved to be a good idea. You can use the Yahoo Trade Market page to get an idea of how much individual players are fetching on the trade market.

Don’t personalize trade talks

When engaging in trade talks, remember that we are in the early days of a long season. Some of your competitors may not yet want to make trades and others may have heightened views of their own players. Getting emotionally carried away with trade talks will only serve to burn bridges that could be used to make important trades later in the season. Additionally, we are rarely as smart as we think we are. Don’t take it personally if another manager disagrees with the value of your players, because our inability to predict what will happen next is what makes these contests so much fun.

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