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

by Todd Zola, on June 19, 2013 @ 13:40:10 PDT


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For the past couple of weeks, we have substituted our normal Round Table discussion with the transcript of some trade talks emanating from a pseudo-league. I've offered some commentary along the way. As a means to wrap things up, I'll share some comments from the knights as well as a few additional thoughts of my own. We'll return to the standard format next week.

I posed the following question to the participants:

Washington Nationals OF Bryce Harper
Harper among those dealt

Which of these three statements best fits your negotiations? Feel free to briefly elaborate or offer your own statement,

A. I found trading easier since I had no attachment to or vested interest in the players.

B. I found trading harder since it's hard to get a feel for my team and the league just looking at standings and rosters without having lived the league up to this point.

C. I found no difference - a trade is a trade.

Perry Van Hook responded with the on-the-record response of C. But he then offered an off-the-record response that I am going to share because I think it is more a reflection of his latter explanation than former, and something I want to touch on myself.

"My alternate answer might be D. I found most owners apathetic about trading. This is somewhat understandable given the situation BUT fairly common in many leagues (especially those where the only communication is by email)."

To be clear, the situation was this was an experimental exercise, not a real league. Everyone was tasked with making at least one deal and had about a week to do so. Perry sent out a cattle call almost immediately and later than night, expressed some frustration privately to me that no one had responded. In my head I was thinking that the guys all had other things going on like work, family and in Nick's case vacation. I was confident that everyone would come through and we'd be able to put something in this bandwidth.

But as Perry intimated in his second reason, this is not at all uncommon in real leagues. People have a lot going on and may not respond to a trade offer right away. To this point, I have a couple of observations.

It's no coincidence that there was a flurry of action right before I asked that all deals be sent to me. It's human nature to wait for the last minute. Heck, as I am typing this, my KFFL colleagues are (hopefully) patiently waiting for me to file this, after I promised it would be done. I think the same sort of thinking can be applied to trading in real leagues. I'm willing to bet the majority of deals get consummated close to the league's weekly transaction deadline. There's no urgency to seal a deal on Thursday when it won't go into effect until after the weekend. Of course, the practicality of the involved players getting hurt is a factor, but even without that, my sense is most deals would still be ironed at close to the deadline. A repercussion of this (and something I see in a couple of my leagues and to be completely honest, frustrates me) is if you do send out a cattle call early in the transaction period, it is to your best interest to be patient and let everyone that is interested reply. I understand you may want to just make a deal and get on with your own life, especially in keeper leagues where you are playing for the future, but still, to optimize return it's best to exhibit a little patience or perhaps wait until closer to the transaction deadline to solicit offers. On my end, I know it is my own damned fault I did not respond to some of these e-mails sooner, especially since they often come from a competitor with a history of a quick trigger, but sometimes I have other pressing matters like filing a column for KFFL.

All that said, the take-home message for me is to realize it is human nature to wait for the last minute, so when I am looking to initiate a deal, while I may do so earlier in the week, I'll stretch out the process to allow as many interested parties to get involved as possible. If I get an offer early in the week, I'll send out a follow-up saying I have an acceptable deal on the table but will wait a day before finalizing. The idea being this warning will push procrastinators like me to get off our butt and respond.

The KFFL boys respond....

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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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