Fantasy Baseball Round Table: An experiment in trade negotiations, Part II

by Todd Zola, on June 12, 2013 @ 14:20:48 PDT


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RC to LM: Hey Lawr -- Are you still looking to make any moves? I have some interest in either struggling B.J. Upton or Will Middlebrooks

Can't help with saves -- but could maybe offer Casey Janssen as an add-on in the right deal and would perhaps need Steve Cishek as a throw in from your side.

Willing to move some pitching and throw in a MI to make something happen. I also just acquired Wil Myers and Bruce from Todd for Ellsbury and Dirks. 

Let me know if you see anything on my roster that interests you.

LM to RC: K. damn. I was hoping to land Myers...

RC to LM: What about Janssen for B.J.?

LM to RC: OK, you got a deal. Janssen for Upton

Lord Zola's Analysis

We ended up with two deals consummated.

Todd gets Andy Dirks and Jacoby Ellsbury

Ryan gets Wil Myers and Jay Bruce

... and ...

Lawr gets Casey Janssen

Ryan gets B.J. Upton

Okay, I really screwed the pooch on this one. First off, my desire to deal Bruce and Myers was misguided. While it is true that I am not as high on the duo as most, my team was really scuffling and the best chance they have to make a move is for Bruce to get on -- and stay on -- one of his patented hot streaks while Myers would be called up and hit the ground running -- sort of like Jay Bruce a few years back. But, I put them on the block so let's take you through some of my thought processes at the time and reaction after the fact.

Atlanta Braves OF B.J. Upton
Upton and out

I was a little surprised that only one other owner sent out a cattle call as Perry Van Hook fired the initial salvo early on and then sat patiently for a response. OK, maybe he wasn't so patient. Perhaps it had to do with the nature of the exercise or maybe that practice is no longer in vogue, but I still think it a league-wide note can be effective and often employ its use. As I have talked about in this space previously, I won't solicit an offer if I am putting the player on the block. However, as Brian Walton has pointed out to me, it's not like I am making it 100 percent clear that I'm willing to make the first offer. And he's right. I often leave it vague so if you want to table some names, that's fine.

As is often the case, when you solicit everyone, you may get multiple replies. Actually, this could be one reason some don't favor its use since that means you are likely going to have to say "no" to someone or you'll have to be a juggler, which is often tricky. What I'll do is let the replies come in and work out what I feel is the optimal deal with both teams to maximize my return. This was why I redirected Ryan to Teixeira, trying to save Myers and Bruce for Lawr. Of course, Tex is another player I should not be looking to deal but instead hope he helps lift my team out of the lower portion of the standings.

I then made what in retrospect was a mistake, or at the very least, a misread. Lawr in essence agreed to our deal (Myers/Bruce for Victorino/Upton). However, when I read his response initially, my take was he didn't want to do it. To be truthful, I may have even glossed over the actual line where he said "I would probably do that." Granted, that's not an actual acceptance in the vein of "you have a deal" or "sure, let's do it." If you go back and read my response, you can tell that in my mind, Lawr rejected the deal, or at least wasn't all that keen on it. Since I then turned around and dealt Myers to Ryan, I feel like a bit of a turd for the obvious misread. If this were a real league, I would have sent him an apology for moving on without coming to closure on our talks. You can tell by Lawr's response to Ryan that he either thought he had a deal with me or he wanted Myers more than he was letting on.

With that said, if Lawr really wanted Myers, perhaps he would have been more pro-active. However, I suspect the nature of this as an exercise may have influenced the exchange and if this was a real league, Lawr would have indeed been clearer on his intent. All this speaks to an aspect of negotiations that can be dicey. What's a firm offer versus what's a speculative offer? What's a firm acceptance versus what's a contingent acceptance? After many a misinterpretation over the years, I have learned to be as direct as possible when the end is near. Plus, in the leagues I run, I require both parties to confirm a deal to me as often one thinks there is an agreement and send it while the other was just posing a hypothetical. A deal is not official until both parties confirm to me.

One more deal....

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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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