After covering best practices for finding help on the waiver wire, I’m going to step away from specific names to target or deal this week and give some big-picture trading advice. The first step in making a deal is usually finding the right trading partner. Here are some ways you can look around your league and determine which managers might be inclined to change things up.
Look at the bottom of the standings
For multiple reasons, your trade search should often start at the bottom of the standings. First, all managers are not created equal. Some of those who operate teams at the bottom of the standings don’t have a strong ability to assess fantasy baseball decisions. And the same thought process that led them to drafting weak teams could lead to making bad trades. Of course, some managers could be at the bottom because of bad luck, but you should know the difference when you look at their roster. The second reason to pursue a deal with bad teams is that their managers might be the most willing to shake things up. After all, it’s not as though keeping the status quo is likely to soon lead them up the standings.
Look for bunched categories
Helping another manager to quickly move up in one category can sometimes lead to a good trade. Check your league standings and find the categories that are tightly bunched, which shouldn’t be too hard early in the season. Then, look for the teams that are at the bottom of the tight group. For example, you can get trade talks off to a strong start by pointing out to the other manager that four more steals could result in five more standings points. Beyond this being a sensible starting point, it also shows the other manager that you put some thought into your original offer. You can craft an especially good offer by finding a player on your team who could help another manager to move up in more than one tightly bunched category.
Find category outliers
After you look at the tightly bunched categories, you may want to go in the opposite direction and assess teams who are way ahead of the pack in one category. These teams are more likely to trade away certain players in a reasonable deal, after you’ve crafted a logical argument that the specific player’s strengths aren’t going to help the team rise any further in the standings. For example, someone who rosters Whit Merrifield and has a 10-steal lead on the rest of the league is going to be more open to trading the Royals speedster than someone in a different league who rosters Merrifield and is in the middle of the pack in swipes. At this point in the season, getting good value out of deals is the most important thing for you to consider. If necessary, you can balance your roster during the summer.
Know your leaguemates
This trade angle is not always possible but can be a strong starting point in some leagues. If you know your leaguemates well, you likely know which ones are the most open to deals. Without naming names, I could type out a long list of fantasy baseball industry analysts and sort them into these three categories: likes to trade, open to trading and doesn’t like to trade. Sending an offer to someone who you know doesn’t like to make deals is a waste of your time.
Look for injury-filled rosters
My Yahoo colleague Scott Pianowski is going to cringe when I say this, but I sometimes like to trade for injured players. Especially when dealing with teams in the middle of the pack or lower, I try to make a trade where I jump up a tier or two in terms of talent by moving someone who is healthy for someone on the IL. These trades are very delicate, as you can be burned by injured players who don’t return on time. For this reason, I try to avoid players who are going to be out of action for an especially long time or those who are returning from major injuries. But I am always ready to trade for someone who should be back in a couple weeks, assuming that my team isn’t overwhelmed by injuries in the first place.
Track recent, serious injuries
This final point makes me feel a bit like the fantasy baseball version of an ambulance chasing lawyer, but sometimes it makes sense to approach a manager who has just lost a significant player to a major injury. Managers in these situations might be looking to trade from an area of strength in order to patch up their new leak in a hurry. For example, those who lost Luis Robert earlier this season may have been happy to part with a significant player at a different position or with a different skill set in order to trade for a five-tool outfielder.
Somewhere in the midst of all these six areas lies the potential for you to make multiple trades. Remember, you aren’t looking to fleece someone, but rather to make thoughtful offers that make your team better and hopefully makes sense for the other squad as well. Happy trading!