Tout Table: Trading Advice

The MLB trading deadline is fact approaching, as is the deadline in many fantasy leagues. As such, this week we asked the Touts a favor.

Please share a solid piece of advice with respect to negotiating a fantasy baseball deal.

D.J. Short (NBC Sports Edge, @djshort): Don’t try to put one over on the other manager; it will be remembered. Recognize the needs of the other side, whether in redraft or dynasty. Doing that shows that you really took the time to investigate rather than simply look out for yourself. Building rapport with other managers can pay off in a big way down the road — they might come to you faster than other managers who they don’t get along with as well — so just try to be kind.

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): Be transparent and put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Whenever I approach someone about a trade, I do the research ahead of time and (hopefully) try to explain how it benefits BOTH of us, usually with respect to categories. Going that extra mile ahead of time typically leads to a quicker, pain-free experience. It also helps build trust and a rapport for future trades.

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): I admit this might be old-school, but conversing personally (email, DM, text, whatever) instead of just blasting off trade offer after trade offer without ever asking what the other team might be looking for or is seeking goes miles for me. There’s nuance in how we each view players; it’s what makes these games tick in my opinion, so I don’t understand the offer-only requests in that light. I’m much more likely to reject and not counter-offer anything if an offer comes at me “cold.”

Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): There’s politics involved in every deal. Don’t ask directly for what you want; instead make the player you’re looking for seem more like a throw in at the end.

Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Let the entire League Know when Your marketing a Premier player

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): People don’t like trading with me so take my advice with a grain of salt. It is better to not trade than it is to make a bad trade. Especially in keeper leagues, so many people want to sell “what if” stats for presently happening stats. For instance, Jarren Duran, who might or might not turn out to be an excellent player, is not worth an already excellent player – even if that guy is over-30. This is not to say you should fear making a bad deal. It happens. Things sometimes don’t work out as you expected. What you should avoid is dealing 1 of something today for less than 1 of something tomorrow.

Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm, @RickWolf1): Ahhh…the art of the deal. It is about people and helping each other’s teams. I always look for appropriate trade partners based on the standings. If I have too much speed, I look for someone who could make the most points in stolen bases. People who care more about winning the “deal” for their twitter polls than winning the league are BAD trade partners. People who make one-sided offers to hope that you are not smart enough are BAD trade partners. The most important thing about being a great trade partner is playing by the rules. Someone sends an offer, you cannot just pick apart why it is not a good deal and ask them to make another offer. You MUST counteroffer. That is how trades freaking works! After the deal is set in principle, always relook at the drops that will need to be made and offer to swap those too. It is simply good form.

Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): It does no good to win a category by 25 home runs or 30 SB’s or 90 K’s, so if you’re trying to trade away excess, and the best deal you can find means maybe you lose a little value (i.e., trade a $15 player and only get a $12 player in return, do it anyway

Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @andybehrens): Your first offer doesn’t necessarily need to be your absolute best offer, but please — please — don’t lead with junk. Have at least a bit of respect for other managers. If we’re starting from a ridiculous position, I’m probably not going to pursue the deal at all. Also, as Rick mentioned, the ultimate point is to win the league, not to win a specific trade. It’s OK to accept a small hit in terms of trade value if the potential category payoff is significant.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): Focus on the needs of your own team and do not worry about someone else “winning” the trade. Approach any potential trade partner with courtesy and expect that he/she will disagree with your evaluation of the players you are proposing. Engage in a conversation and be flexible when possible, but do not compromise your own needs and evaluation just because someone else disagrees with you. Do not trade for the sake of trading. Sometimes the best trades are the ones we do not make. In other words, do not act impulsively or reactionary to anything.

Tim McLeod (, @RunTMcP361 ): Take the time to find a good fit that benefits both parties.

Scott White (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CBSScottWhite): Just … drop the sales pitch. People don’t need you to walk them through the deal, pointing out all the wonderful ways it benefits them, as if you’re trying to do them some kind of favor. Presume they’re paying attention. Presume they know what a player is worth to them. Your attempts to push your offer on them most likely come off as either condescending or silly and never ever help your cause. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk a deal through with someone (which can be helpful) or even point out very recent changes to a player’s status (he just picked up third base eligibility, he’s back from the IL now, etc.), but leave the player evaluations to the other person.

Jake Ciely (The Athletic, @allinkid): It doesn’t need to be that difficult, yet managers run into trouble because they skip these important factors. 1) Yes, of course start with your need, but… 2) Scour the rosters for potential options, and now reverse rolls. See what your targeting team needs as well. There is no point offering your 3B depth if the other roster has a 3B at MI and UTIL, plus a solid option on the bench… 3) TALK it out! EIther contact the manager first, explain what you’re looking for, etc., or when you send the proposal, give the reasons you’re sending it and why you think it would benefit the other team. This might sound like you’re trying to “talk them into the deal,” but it opens the door for the manager to say, “I was looking for X instead,” or, “I don’t want to trade Y, but I’ll consider Z.” Communication is the key!

Lou Blasi (Fantistics, @LouBlasi): So many great pieces of trade advice here. I have four concepts to emphasis … 1) The goal is NOT to win the trade (let alone rob your trade pertner). The goal is to make your roster better! You can lose the trade in a vacuum but if the deal makes your roster better, make it! Don’t be afraid of an overpay with your suprlus … 2) Never just say no. Unless the offer is so unreasonable that you don’t see a path of productive discussion, always counter and open a dialogue … 3) Take both paths, shop your assets around to the league in general, because you shouldn’t anticipate that Owner A doesn’t need your guy. Let him or her decide, Then also target specific owners and rosters that match with what you want to trade and trade for. Some owners don’t take the time to do that and you can show them a deal they should make … 4) Never look back. You’ll live longer. Make a good deal with a good process at the time. That’s all you can do. Don’t waste time regretting anything. Focus on your current roster and you needs … Oh, and Championships are forever. Win now if you can. No one knows where we will be in 5 years, there are always new super prospects and young players coming along. If you are close, go for it!

Jim Bowden (Fantasy Alarm, @JimBowdenGM): Spend significant time finding out who the opposing GM likes and or wants off of your team and when making proposals center on those players and always remember trades are supposed to help both teams not just yours.

Perry Van Hook (Mastersball, @): Following up on what Jim just said, you will do better with the old school approach – Calll the other owner and talk baseball and players and you will often find a deal that you wouldn’t see with emails

Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): This may seem like obvious advice, but it seems to be something most fantasy managers ignore. Offer a trade that benefits your trade partner. Often times a trade is sent with the sole purpose of getting a player the sender needs with no regard to what the receiving team could benefit from. If you send a fair offer than works for both sides, you are a leg up on anyone else and are more likely to receive a counteroffer.

Michael Florio (NFL Network, @MichaelFFlorio): It sounds simple, but think about deals that fits both teams. Too often fantasy players find a team that has what they need, but don’t think about what the other team needs. Take the time to find what position you can trade and then look for a trade partner that has a need there

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): Those who ask for a large number of trades make a large number of trades. The players that make the most number of trades do so because they are good at it. By the law of transitivity, those who ask for a large number of trades are good at trading. Want to get better at trading? Work hard at making many offers to many people for many months of the year. Those who trade a lot are perceived as players who fairly negotiate and offer reasonable trades (since they do so many). So the more you trade, the more you CAN trade. People will be MORE willing to trade with you.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Everyone wants to feel like they are controlling the deal, often by being coy about offers, trying to force you to make the first offer so they can counter, etc. They want control? Give it to them. Frame an offer using choices. Offer a cboice of players (can be one from Column A, one from Column B, etc.). Maybe even have one set of choices for Player X and another set for Player Y. They not only choose which player they deal, but also the return. They’re in control, right? Not really, because you’re only proposing combinations for which you are OK. The kicker is often, your dance partner will opt for a combination you feel is lesser quality. If you only offered specific players, it could be accepted and you never even learned they would take what you feel is a lesser offer.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru, @BaseballGuys): I think the top thing to do is to identify your need. The next piece of the puzzle, really 1B to your 1A need, is to investigate the need of your trading partner. We often forget that a deal only gets done if both parties obtain something they desire. If someone has Tatis/Semien, why are you offering them Brandon Crawford in a deal? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes as well.

Brian Walton (CreativeSports2, @B_Walton): Be respectful of the other owner. Customize the discussion and your offer and be willing to agree to move on if needed. It is never smart to burn bridges. Never.

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): When you get an offer, reply. Even if it’s as simple as, “I’m busy right now, can’t take a look,” it’s important to engage with your competition. There might not be a greater way to harm your future ability to improve your team than to be an inattentive/inactive manager. Interact!

MIke Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): Ask yourself a simple question: “Would I take this deal if it were offered to me?” If the answer is no, why bother offering it? This doesn’t mean all your “good” offers will be accepted, but if you’re starting out from a place that’s below what you think market value is, you are probably wasting everyone’s time.

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy): While you should look at the team you are offering a trade to and offer them something you think they need or will help them, don’t tell them what they need. Nothing puts another owner off more than someone telling them what they need or how they should be evaluating their own team. Tell them you’ve been looking at thier squad and ask them if they are looking for speed, or if they’re looking for power, whatever. Steer them towards what you want to do rather than telling them what they should do.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): I wrote about this on my RT Sports article last week, and basis and advice was be persistent. I made trade offers to 5 different team owners till I found the one that was the best trading partner. I was trading Trout and Turner and looking for good value in return. Look at you lead standings, see what other need and what you have that can help them, and what they have they can trade you!

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): When negotiating a tradr in fantasy baseball your goal should be to fill a need, to add numbers in a catefory you are lacking but can make up ground. Don’t get caught up in “winning” the trade as long as you feel it helps imprrove your team in the standings

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Respect is most important. Also try to give your trading partner some control over the deal. If you’re ambivalent about a couple of players, give the other manager the choice between or among the players

Paul Sporer (Fangraphs, ESPN Fantasy Sports, @Sporer): Pay attention to what your leaguemate actually needs. It’s so insulting to receive an offer that has players I truly cannot use because my leaguemate is simply focused on getting the guy(s) they want from me. And never express interest in a player and just say “I like so-and-so, make me an offer.” I’m not doing the work for a player YOU want from ME!

Derek VanRiper (The Athletic, @DerekVanRiper): Echoing Sporer, look at the standings and the roster for the team you’re trying to trade with. If your potential trade partner is struggling with hitting, don’t offer a pitcher for their best hitter, it’s a dead end and you shouldn’t waste the time. You absolutely can trade with someone in that situation, but reach out with a message and see if they’re willing take two bats for one. Echoing Behrens, make a competitive offer up top. The low-ball start in hopes of getting a “great” deal for yourself isn’t going to work, and burning other people in the league with a bad trade can have long-term consequences anyway.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I find this hard to answer. I read all of the above and think, well, yes, of course, but I have had trade offers scoffed at this year and have had owners offer me 10 cents on the dollar deals, so it has been a bit of a rough 2021 on the trade front. I think the key to the entire thing is to be talking to your league mates constantly and find out what they think, who they like, what they think they need (instead of what you think they need), and then the things you learned in May allow you to make a trade in July. (Ian Kahn is a master at this; I am not).

Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): Understand your roster needs, identify a potential trade parter or two who match-up and make a strong offer. It’s alright losing a trade on paper if it addresses a clear need affecting a climb in the standings or preventing someone from catching your team in a category. Everyone addresses how to improve in the standings, but do not overlook fending off those trying to chase you for precious points in categories as well.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Look at your trade partner’s team! Don’t offer Pete Alonso to a team that needs power if it already has Freddie Freeman, Manny Machado, and Nelson Cruz filling the 1B, CI, and Util slots! Sure, Alonso is an attractive acquisition, but not if another trade or major roster move needs to be made just to fit him into the starting lineup.

Michael Rathburn (Rotowire, @FantasyRath): The goal of a trade should not be that you need to screw over the other owner. Successful trades are when both teams come out better for it. Know the value of a player in the league format before making a trade or casting judgment on a player.

Craig MIsh (FNTSY Radio, @CraigMish): Be sure to identify the standings prior to making an offer. I think that goes without saying. i get trade offers regularly but sometimes the dynamic of not looking at what the other owner specifically needs is lost. In addition if I am out of it, don’t ask me to help your team win. Ask me to finish higher in the standings.

Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): Golden rule variant – Offer trades unto others that you would want offered unto you.

Eric Cross (Fantrax, @EricCross04): There are two key pieces to making a trade in my eyes. First, try to have a dialogue about the trade. And if you don’t know the person, most every platform has some sort of messenger feature or a way to send notes with your offer. Secondly, the trade needs to benefit both teams, not just yours. That part often gets forgotten.

Jon Hegglund (Baseball Prospectus, @JonHegglund): A lot of great advice, above, and to these good points I would add that even the deals you don’t make matter: it’s important to keep up a rapport with potential trade partners, so even something as simple as acknowledging that a proposal might make sense for them but doesn’t quite work for you is much better than dismissing a low-ball offer outright. The rhetoric you use matters, and projecting a sense of openness and willingness to listen–even to lopsided offers–can pay off down the line.

Tom Kessenich (NFBC, @TomKessenich): Always operate in good faith. Never try to low ball someone or get away with an offer you would immediately reject. Look at the team you’re dealing with and see what they need. Find their strength and see if matches your weaknesses. Make a deal that works for the both of you. There’s no reason you have to be the “winner” of the trade. If you make a deal that benefits both teams that is one that is ultimately successful.

Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): Respect and communication are the keys to any negotiation. It’s also not a bad idea to try this old thing we used to do as teenagers called ‘picking up the phone and calling’. The likelihood of success is much higher with a call than over email or chat.

Andrea Lamont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): The best advice I have is to negotiate with the right team. Once you figure out what your team needs, figure out what you have to market and then look for a team that needs what you have to offer. Offering another team a bunch of categories or positions they do not need could make them less likely to trade with you in the future. Other teams like to feel like you at least considered their situation and not just your own.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): As someone who rarely makes a trade, I’m probably not the best one to ask but…I’d go with the Ian Kahn approach. Spark up a conversation with the other manager. See where her/his head is at, what they are looking for, etc. Sure…it takes work but in the end it helps both teams.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): Most of the previous responses have covered the most obvious piece of advice — make sure the offer is something that should be of interest to the other manager. So, I’ll offer a different tip — give the other manager as much control over the trade as possible. Whenever you can, let them choose who they are sending you or who they are getting. Put players in groups (when possible) and let them choose the offer they like the best within the groups. For example, you could say to another manager, “I’ll give you can two of Players A, B, C or D for Player X”.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): To paraphrase something Ron Shandler offered in response to a similar question a year or two ago: assume that your trading partner doesn’t give a damn what’s in it for you – if they don’t see (without your “help”) how your offer makes their team better, your offer has no chance of being accepted. Do your homework – if you assume that by merely broadcasting your needs on the league message board that people will take the time to figure out how they can trade you the high K/9, low WHIP starting pitcher or middle infielder with speed that you seek, you’re likely to be disappointed. Figure out what you have to give up (nobody’s going to trade you their All-Stars for the guys you’re considering cutting), then go over other teams’ rosters to identify the owner(s) who might be a good match. Make a solid offer, talk things through if the other owner’s open to the idea, and don’t hold a grudge if the negotiations ultimately don’t work out – there will likely be other opportunities down the road.

Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): Do your research and have an idea as to what the other manager might be looking for before making an offer. Even if an initial leaguewide e-mail wasn’t sent out making this clear, if I’m leading the league in homers while struggling in pitching and get offered Joey Gallo for Max Scherzer, it’s a big turnoff and I’d be hesitant to trade with that manager going forward. As others have mentioned, communication is very important. Always send a note to go along with your offer or better yet, I like to have an e-mail or even phone conversation before sending out an official offer. It will make any future trade negotiations run smoother.

Ian Kahn (The Athletic, @IanKahn4): Trading can be immensely fun. Especially in Dynasty Leagues. There is a danger though. If you decide to start your rebuild, there is a moment where you might just want to MAKE MOVES. That’s when you have to stop, take a breath, and make sure that you are still getting VALUE. Don’t get caught in the inertia of it all. Work competing teams against each other. Make sure you get the value. Have fun!! Good luck.

Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @Scott_Pianowski): The first thing is to be reasonable in negotiations, viewing your trading partner as somebody you’re going to make several trades with in the future. As for objectives, seek to make trades that help you in the categories, not necessarily a deal that you win statically. It’s all about solving the puzzle.