Fantasy Baseball Roundtable: Trades, vetoes and keeper leagues
While today's topic may not appear appealing to those of you who do not play in keeper or dynasty formats, there is ample discussion that transcends into any format, so please continue reading after seeing the question, which is:
Let's talk about something that is always a hot-button topic - dump trading in keeper and dynasty formats. Specifically, the types of trades whereby one team deals future assets to fortify their chances this season while the other is not planning on competing this season but is looking to improve their keeper foundation going forward.
What do you consider a fair offer when you are:
Perry Van Hook with a question of his own, then an answer:
First, why the negative name on trades - dump trades? Who had to take a dump? How about rebuilding trades? Or how about TY/NY - this year for next year or future for current trades?
Really as long as a league has rules that clearly define what is allowed and what isn't AND uses an in-season salary cap, I have no problem with these trades and have used them from both directions, see my recent four part series "Where is the Manual on Rebuilding" posted in The Captain's Log.
Greg Morgan with a slightly different take:
I haven't played in a money league that allows trading for years out of personal preference. Why? Right about now I'd receive offers such as Mike Aviles for Albert Pujols or Omar Infante for Jose Reyes. Once every two years I'd finally get an offer that makes sense, only to get vetoed by league vote. Trades are obviously very subjective and have to be treated on a case by case basis and considering each teams category needs.
All our answers to those general questions are probably going to be similar, but when you begin to name specific players or league types or whatever else, naturally, they'll be much more subjective. I haven't played in keeper leagues for long enough to say, but what are some ways to think outside the box for those questions? Those are answers I'd be very curious to hear. Can you disguise a dump deal in April and actually get young players who you think may help you to compete in the same year? Would you flip players multiple times to get those you really want, and what are the chances that you hurt your team if you do?
I started out in keeper leagues in 1988.
And, bad trades have always been part of the equation.
I am presently in two - the XFL, in which Perry and Brian and Todd also play - and am rebuilding now.
I think there is a rule of thumb of two-for-one giving a stud for prospects or younger undervalued guys.
And, I just swapped Albert Pujols - at $66, and whom I drafted partially to mess up the player pool and prices at auction, and partially to simply own to trade now - for Matt Moore and Yonder Alonso. And, I think that is a fair gamble on my part, and an expensive enough price tag for Doug Dennis, who now owns Albert.
The problem is what is fair.
In my Strat-o-Matic league, the other keeper, a team rebuilding swapped CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay for Madison Bumgarner (there were other players involved, but they were the core) and that was ridiculous. It was easy to suggest that Bumgarner is a future stud, but exchange Bumgarner for Ubaldo Jimenez, and imagine Ubaldo's 2010 in there, and ask yourself is that a reasonable, yet fair risk?
But, the owners were both happy, and the truth is, I guess we are all grownups, and barring anything really egregious, what can you do?
I would never literally vote to overturn a deal, but I have no issue humiliating and embarrassing someone who makes a bad deal, like the Halladay deal (and I did my best to excoriate to the whole league).
I also believe there are two kinds of traders.
One is a guy who understands and sees value for value, and is willing to give up to get, for a good and fair trade should be painful to both teams.
The second type is the guy who wants to make sure and "win" the trade. These guys are tough. They always want a deal sweetener, or some little thing that convinces them they are not being taken advantage of.
I generally eschew swapping from these guys, especially when doing a dump trade.
Finally, I do try and make sure when dumping that I am being ethical. That everyone has a chance to make an offer for my studs available, and to not tip the balance of the league power by making such a swap.
I'll piggyback on Lawr's point about those in keeper/dynasty leagues that always try to win the deal. In the long-term league I play with New York-based buddies, we have a few owners who are more so predators than they are fair swappers. They pick on a few of the weaker owners and have picked them fairly clean to build up some pretty strong farm clubs.
Lord Zola's Wrap-Up
I told you it was a hot button topic. The bottom line is there is no right or wrong to something of this nature. My knights did a great job of sharing their opinions, some like and some not so like. There is one additional point I wish to share followed by a rather strong opinion of my own regarding the role of the league commissioner in the process.
Truth be told, the stimulus of this topic was Lawr asking me if I thought his Pujols deal was fair. My initial reply was rather terse "fair is what the market will bear," after which Lawr responded with comments much like he offered above. I'd like to take a moment to expound on my "what the market will bear" comment.
The "problem" with dump trades (I actually agree with Perry with respect to the connotation, but this is what they are conventionally called) is there is no algorithm that judges equity. Trades in one-year leagues can at least be judged on a value for value basis early in the season and a categorical help for categorical help nature later in the season. How much value a player will provide in the future is a crapshoot.
Lawr is right, so long as both sides are happy, the deal is fair
The market influence has to do with supply and demand. Taking this to the hyperbolic extreme, if there is one keeper and one non-keeper available, the exchange of the two is fair regardless of the names of the players. So long as one team improves their chances to win now and the other in the future, if there are no other trade options, the deal is fair.
Of course, in reality, the market will consist of multiple keepers and non-keepers. In theory, the best keeper should fetch the best non-keeper, etc. This does not always occur. But ideally, as is discussed above, each owner does his due diligence, seeking out the best deal possible. To quickly comment on something Greg stated, I agree with him that I am out for myself and will take the best deal, even if the same owner gets all my good stuff. That said, these instances are few and far between and in almost all of my experiences, spreading the wealth resulted in a greater return.
Oh yeah, I did want to address Nick's questions. One can absolutely disguise one's intentions. In what was one of the coolest series of deals I have ever witnessed, Paul Jones, who contributed to Mastersball back in the day, "dumped" early in the season, building what appeared to be a killer keeper list in what we called the NL Masters, our site keeper league. A little while later, pretty much on the same day, Paul then announced a series of deals where he converted these keepers into present day help that resulted in a title. He took the league totally by surprise, not to mention by storm. By being covert in his actions, not only did he assemble a juggernaut squad, he stripped all the non-contenders of their best non-keepers, so keeping up with the Joneses (sorry) for other would-be contenders was that much more difficult.
OK, real quick, here are my feelings on the role of the league commissioner. In my not so humble opinion, the commissioner should not govern, the rules should govern. At times, the commissioner may be required to interpret the rules, but (hopefully) not adjudicate. If this is necessary, it is a one-time thing and the rules should be altered to do the job the following season. With specific respect to trade vetoes, those suggesting other owners vote with their own agenda are absolutely correct. There is no getting around it. But, if you require a reasonable amount of vetoes to actually overturn the trade, those selfish voters do not get their way. And personally, I believe that this sort of voting should be public. At the end of the day, I MUCH PREFER having a mechanism whereby the league votes as compared to a process where the commissioner, or even commish-by-committee, rules on every trade. But even that lags behind the league constitution being the governing entity.
About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.
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