He’s Just Not That Into You(r Trade Offers)
Sorry for the slightly sexist quote, but these things tend to happen when you’re punning a name from a 2009 movie.
This week’s article is here to help those who are stymied and frustrated by the trade market. If you haven’t been able to consummate any deals in recent months, let’s try to figure out what you’re doing wrong.
You’re in love with your players
If you’re having trouble getting a deal to the finish line, it might be time to reassess your valuations of your players. Many managers fall in love with their current cast, remembering all of their successes more vividly than those of players on opposing teams. Taking an objective look at the stats generated by your players thus far could open your eyes to some of their deficiencies. A simple way to analyze your own players is to look at their placement on the Yahoo! rankings thus far. You may love your first baseman, but if he ranks 15th among all those at his position, he hasn’t been especially productive. And although it’s fine to have some players who you expect to improve in the second half, you can’t be naïve enough to expect them all to step up.
You aren’t thinking enough about the other managers
You obviously enter trade talks with a goal in mind for your own team. Maybe you want to add some speed, or perhaps you have an excess of saves and hope to funnel some of that player value into another area. But the manager of the other team doesn’t care about what you want. Those who are constantly finding rejection in the trade market often run into problems because they don’t spend any time looking at the needs of the other team. A significant part of the process for finding a deal should be answering this question: “If I was the manager for the other team, what kind of deal would I be looking to make”?
You’re too controlling
We have become a society that loves choice. Our TV packages include hundreds of channels. Restaurant menus are small novels. And in this era, good fantasy baseball traders hand over control to those with who they are trading. For example, if I’m looking to acquire an ace, I’ll find a team with two or three of them and start trade talks by asking the other manager who they would prefer to deal. I have a much better chance of finding a trade if I stay away from the players who mean the most to them. In a similar vein, if I’m looking to trade away one of my three closers, I’ll find the manager who needs saves and start trade talks by asking them which of my closers they would like to discuss. I’m wasting my time and theirs by discussing a player on my team they don’t want or asking for someone who they don’t want to part with.
You aren’t willing to go outside your comfort zone
To make the best deal, we sometimes need to push our limits and get outside our comfort zone by offering players who mean a lot to us. I have often played in leagues with managers who will start trade talks by saying that Players X, Y, and Z aren’t available. And those managers typically don’t make many deals. It’s fun to think that you might acquire Juan Soto for three players on your bench, but it isn’t going to happen. To make the big moves you seek, you need to be creative and open-minded with your roster.
You are living in the past
The stats generated by players so far this season have been very important but are not going to help from this moment forward. For example, players such as Cedric Mullins, Jared Walsh, and Adolis Garcia have been more valuable than Juan Soto to this point in the season. But no one in their right mind would rather have one of those three overachievers instead of Soto during the second half. Based on Soto’s pre-2021 track record and well-recognized skill set, he should leave those players in the dust at some point this summer. Some managers struggle to sell high on overachieving players because they don’t recognize the immense possibility of their production tailing off soon.
You don’t know how to communicate
Some of you are probably thinking, “I’ve heard that comment once or twice around my own house!" But hear me out. The packaging of a trade offer is very important. You need to send a message with the offer. The message shouldn’t be long (one paragraph at most) but it should show that you have looked at your opponent’s situation and put some thought into the offer. Additionally, the message should be mostly positive in nature. Saying, "You really need a starter” isn’t going to receive the same type of reception as, “In my eyes, your roster is stronger in the outfield than at starting pitcher.” Clear, purposeful, succinct communication opens the door for making a trade that works for both sides.
Your expectations are too high
Lopsided trade offers will hurt you in the short and long term. These offers aren’t going to be accepted, and they will leave the other managers with a bad taste in their mouth that they won’t forget the next time you come calling. You can start with your best offer or something close to it. But if you start with something that wastes everyone’s time, you shouldn’t be surprised when you don’t receive any type of response.
As you can see, making trades isn’t all that different from building a successful relationship. With the right approach, everyone gets what they need and comes back for more.