Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Trading between contenders and non-contenders

by Todd Zola, on August 1, 2012 @ 16:30:00 PDT


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Anyway, the juggling and shifting of commodities among those seven teams as we jockey for position and an opening is totally kosher.

What I try to be mindful of, though is say the last-place team (and I am not looking at standings right now, nor do I know breakdowns, so this is not pointing anything at anyone; rather it is just an example) is save-heavy, and Larry needs a closer to keep first place. And, he basically can get Fernando Rodney from the last-place team in exchange for steals or homers that won't really help the current Rodney owner, save a potential point or two here or there. That is wrong.

At least to me, and that is irrespective of league.

And again, I am not suggesting anyone in Tout or LABR has ever done this.

But, fair is also, for better or worse, sometimes just as subjective as life itself, right?

Derek Carty

What I don't understand, Lawr, is why Larry (in your example) shouldn't have the opportunity to trade for those saves. As long as he's not offering Brandon Hicks, as long as he's offering a player of comparable value, I don't see why just because he's in first he should have his trade options limited. If he's trying to win and he's putting the effort in to do so, why are we going to artificially inhibit his ability to do so? Sure, it helps his team, but isn't that what we're supposed to do in this game? And the second- and third-place teams have just as much opportunity to make their own trades. If they don't, it's their own faults.

Lawr Michaels

Derek -

I don't think I said he should not have that opportunity. Nor should the teams under him.

I am just saying make sure it ISN'T for the likes of Brandon Hicks (now watch: Hicks will go ballistic and put up .370-8-35 totals between now and October).

Doug Dennis

This requires no more or no less care than any trade that one might make at any point in the season and we are all saying the same thing. If all we are really saying is, "no collusion" then, who doesn't agree with that?

Scott Pianowski

I'm surprised this is a grand debate. Anything an owner does at any time with the sincere aim of helping his or her (dare to dream) team should be perfectly cool.

Derek Carty

I think the issue is whether etiquette should be different for contender or non-contender trades then for run-of-the-mill trades. Personally, I don't see why it should be.

Scott Pianowski

In one industry league where I'm not in the hunt, I did make it clearly known that I was shopping someone before I made a deal with a contender. But heck, my entire team is (in theory) available at any time. No one should ever be untouchable, that's just nonsense.

Cory Schwartz

Since I'm apparently in the very small minority I'll address a couple of points that have been made and hopefully clarify my own:

First, I consider myself a competitive person and always want to finish as high in the standings as I can, but it doesn't seem appropriate to me to trade with front-runners if I'm at the bottom of the pack. I'm not getting on my high horse, but it's not as important to me to gain to 2-3 points in the standings on a "good" trade as it is to maintain what I feel is the best method of assuring the integrity of the race at the top. I still have FAAB and sound roster management as avenues to improve my team.

Conversely, I'm currently leading in mixed Tout but when looking for trades recently I've focused on the mid- to upper-standings teams, rather than those near the bottom. While I have nothing but respect for those owners, it just feels like I'd be cherry-picking to try and work deals with them. Simply put, regardless of my place in the standings, I don't accept the argument that the last-place team and the first-place team stand to be benefit equally from a late-summer trade, even if it is the very epitome of a "fair value" trade. The "value" of winning the league is of far, far greater significance than the value of moving up a place in the standings to save a few FAAB dollars.

* Brian wrote: "Wondering why some seem to assume that every trade with a front-runner will be assured of helping that front-runner."

Respectfully, I find this to be disingenuous. The outcome of any trade is always uncertain for both teams at the time the deal is made. But, we are all skilled players in this league and I find it a stretch to think that anyone would make a trade that they did not think of as fair value that helps both teams. Obviously the first priority in making a trade is to help one's own team, and but if not offering something of value to help the other team, how could the trade realistically be expected to happen at all?

* Patrick wrote: "Doesn't it also affect the race to not make a mutually advantageous deal with a front-runner?"

Perhaps passively so, but if I'm in 13th and make a deal with the 1st-place team but NOT the 2nd-place team, how can it reasonably be stated that I'm NOT affecting the race to the benefit of one team over another? Certainly both teams have an equal opportunity to make trades, but there are plenty of other trade partners besides those with no reasonable shot at competing. And, as an aside, I've never heard of anyone accused of favoritism or (worse) collusion by NOT making a trade.

Moreover, while I trust in the integrity ...

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Something that is conspicuous by its absence is how you, the general public, feels about this issue. I don't mean your personal philosophy; I mean what do you prefer to occur in industry leagues such as Tout Wars and LABR? Playing in a public league, should I have entertained the trade offer that precipitated this soiree? Please send your opinion to and you might be a guest Knight in next week's Fantasy Baseball Round Table.

About Todd Zola,

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, 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 and, 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. Fantasy Baseball

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