While it's not out of the question for a trailing team to trade with contending clubs in a rotisserie fantasy baseball league, it's typically much more logical to swap with someone who's also trying to move up.
Right trade, right time
Remember: The art of the deal at its core isn't about buying low and selling high. It's about maneuvering statistical assets in the most beneficial means for your journey toward the top of the standings. In this vein, you should always be conscious of how you can send useful pieces to locations in the category distribution where they can do the most damage.
Such was a thought of mine when chatting with my Gannett brethren Steve Gardner and Howard Kamen of USA TODAY Sports in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association league. Heading into Sunday, I was sitting in sixth place about 20 points behind the leader, CDM Sports personality and league commissioner Charlie Wiegert. (Shenanigans, I say.) Steve and Howard were a few spots down and about 20 overall points behind me. I had three starting closers -- Casey Janssen, Chad Qualls and Zach Britton -- with Ronald Belisario on my bench. I wasn't starting him because (a) he's unlikely to have the job for long and (b) I wanted to load up on strikeouts elsewhere.
My need for K's prompted me to contact Gardner and Kamen, who needed another RP. I pitched them a closer in exchange for either Alex Cobb or Francisco Liriano. They were intrigued and said they also needed a catcher; I just happened to have a solid third one in John Jaso.
Their offer to include John Axford, who may get the Cleveland Indians gig back but also can help in punchouts, led to a finalized action of my Qualls and Jaso for USAT's Liriano and Axford.
I dig Qualls, so it was a shame to lose him, but he's headed toward a useful spot where he can help USAT hold off two of the top four teams in the overall standings in the saves column while passing several other competing teams in the saves column, therein costing them roto points. I backed up this move by scooping up Jeurys Familia in the hopes that Jenrry Mejia stumbles out of the New York Mets role.
My need for a K-heavy starter was more vital for the long run. I was big on a Liriano downfall heading into this year, but in the micro picture, his final four months should look more like what he posted last year. (Yay, positive regression.) I'll take the WHIP hit in order to try to outpace others with strikeouts.
This was a mutually helpful barter that might look somewhat uneven to uninformed eyes. We've positioned our chess pieces better to move up the mountain. Of course, you can't guess what permutations will follow since it's still in the first half of the season, and other teams will zig and zag, but it's enough time theoretically for Qualls to make a dent for them and for Liriano to push me near the top of the K column.
My new group of SPs: Liriano, Johnny Cueto, Ian Kennedy, Dan Haren, Jesse Chavez, Marcus Stroman, Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey. And if one or more of Belisario, Axford and Familia hits for saves to go with Janssen and Britton the rest of the way, the plan will have worked cleanly.
Don't be a used car salesman. Be direct. Pitching such clear-headed, and in this case tandem, tactics works out better than trying to grift your trade partner.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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