Across all my various leagues that allow trading, I am pretty sure I don’t average two swaps per season. I don’t know why, other than in industry leagues, I find making deals very difficult. Guys don’t want to help front-runners or don’t want to look bad or something.
The circumstances are a bit different in the XFL, Xperts Fantasy League. The keeper league with 40-man rosters is one format in which trading is almost mandatory to win. In that league, the standard trading goods are prospects, as these players – if rostered while minor leaguers – escalate in annual value at a slower rate than all others.
The difference of $3 versus $5 may not sound like much, but it builds up over time. For example, I acquired a +3 David Wright in trade years ago, but he is still just $25 this season. Rocking a .500 on-base percentage (another difference in this league is that OBP is used instead of batting average), makes me a very happy Wright owner.
Anyway, back to the here and now. As the week began in our 15-team league, I was sitting in fifth place, 16 points out of first. I have often been in the hunt but have never won the XFL since joining in 2005.
My 2012 team is good enough to complete, but probably lacks the horses to win. Injured players on the horizon that could be helpful later on include Stephen Drew, Michael Morse and David Robertson. Manny Ramirez is waiting – or should I say that I am waiting for him to demonstrate if he has anything left in the tank. Emilio Bonifacio just took his unexpected, but very welcome MLB-leading 20 stolen bases to the disabled list.
In other words, these additional guys could be interesting parts, but none of them are likely to be difference-makers as this summer turns to fall.
I always shudder about the practice of dealing away prospects that later prosper on other team’s rosters – for years and years. Yet this seems a necessity to win this league.
As I was pondering whether or not to make such a move in 2012, an opportunity arrived out of the blue. It was one that cost just one young player – albeit my best one.
Early Monday morning, a league-mate, Doug Dennis, sent out a broadcast note in which he was the second owner to date to concede his 2012 league candidacy. In it, he offered four front-line, but expensive players in exchange for one “uber-great offensive player” at a low keeper price (along with the necessary roster-filler to balance the numbers).
It seemed most ironic as I had just replied to Lord Zola’s question for this week’s Fantasy Baseball Roundtable. The subject was our reaction to mass email trade offers.
In my reply, I showed considerable contempt, but left myself an out. I acknowledged that if the player(s) offered intrigued me, I would probably at least ask what the other owner wanted.
In this case, I was very interested in all four players dangled – Brian McCann, Albert Pujols, Andre Ethier and Josh Beckett. Further, Dennis had already been clear as to his requirements and seemed motivated versus the maddening tire-kicking some others seem to enjoy.
I had four players that could potentially meet Dennis’ profile – catchers Carlos Santana and Jesus Montero, shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Eric Hosmer. All are +3 players at $7 or less – much like Wright when I added him years ago.
I waited to see what Dennis wanted.
It quickly became obvious that what Dennis really was after was Mike Trout or Bryce Harper – two players not under my control. A quick look over league rosters made it clear to me that Trout’s owner would likely not trade, but Harper’s third-place owner might consider such a proposal.
Dennis did make me an overriding offer for either of my catchers plus Hosmer. For obvious reasons, I immediately declined.
Despite it appearing like a deal would not happen, I still sat down and considered the other roster moves I would need to make to accommodate the trade. I thought about offering a decent prospect as a sweetener, but instead sat back, waiting to see what came to me.
It turned out that my efforts were not wasted.
In my favor was a combination of a motivated trade partner and the good fortune that Dennis received quick and firm rejections from the owners of Trout and Harper.
He came back with a proposal of Santana, an outfielder plus two roster-fillers in return for his four players.
Wanting to move quickly before others in the league might muddy the waters with other offers, I immediately accepted. The other three players leaving my roster are the ones I would have dropped to accommodate the additions - Mike Carp, Garrett Jones and Nathan Eovaldi. All had been reserve round selections last month and are very replaceable.
From start to end - from initial mass email to trade acceptance - this eight-player deal was done in exactly 80 minutes.
I felt good when one league competitor emailed this reaction: “Fair is what the market will bear so all I can do is pat you on the back and look for a deal like that to keep up.”
Dennis opened another door almost immediately. The day after our trade, he sent a second broadcast message to the league. It was identical to the first, with the exception of the players offered. This time, the take was Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon Phillips and Torii Hunter.
I actually would have considered taking the bait again was it not for the league active roster cap of $325. In other words, I could acquire the players, but would not be able to play them all.
Still, I am pleased with the move, accomplished without having sacrificed my team’s future while considerably improving its chances in the present.
Of course, your mileage may vary. In other words, trades don’t often work out this smoothly, but when you have the right conditions, don’t be shy to move quickly. In this case, it seems to have worked out for me.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.