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How To Evaluate the Trade Market


You may still be sitting on guys in a slump ready to break out, but for the most part you have a good idea about where your team is strong and where your team needs a boost. Review your spot in the standings in each category and then review your roster and project which of those categories are likely to improve or decline based on what you expect for the last 80 percent of the season.

That’s the easy part – figuring out where you are and what you need to fix. The part many don’t seem to get, and you know these types in your leagues, is finding a willing trade partner. Your offered trade not only should help you but it should help your trade partner too. If it doesn’t, why on Earth would the other team hit ‘accept?’

For starters, what type of league are you in? Rotisserie, points, or head-to-head? Is pitching abundant on waivers? What about outfield? Are lineups daily or weekly? One catcher or two catchers? Do you have Disabled List spots? How many? Does your league use other categories other than the standard five hitting, five pitching? And there are so many more questions you could ask.

For this article’s sake, I’m keeping it simple. We’re going to assume a standard 12-team ESPN league. If you have specific league questions please ask them in our forums, but the basics discussed will still apply. Currently I sport a team in fourth place that is full of injured players and under achieving bats. Please see below:

C – Wilson Ramos

1B – Adrian Gonzalez

2B – Howie Kendrick

SS – Hanley Ramirez

3B – Ryan Zimmerman

MI – Jason Kipnis

CI – Mike Aviles

OF – Nelson Cruz

OF – Jason Heyward

OF – Logan Morrison

OF – Brennan Boesch

OF – 1 of Michael Brantley, Will Venable, and Garrett Jones (the bat vs. a lefty sits)

UTIL – same as above

DL – Nolan Reimold, Evan Longoria

SP – Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster, Gavin Floyd, Jeff Samaradzija, Ross Detweiler, Chris Capuano

RP – Joel Hanrahan, Grant Balfour, Henry Rodriguez, Santiago Casilla, Casey Jannsen, Andrew Cashner (Sergio Santos on bench)

BN – Jonathan Singleton, Bubba Starling, Shelby Miller, Ryan Kalish (salary cap keeper league – cheap bench stashes for the future)

As you can probably guess, I am dominating pitching but am way behind the 8-ball on offense.  Partly due to injuries (Zimmerman and Longoria, to a lesser degree Reimold), partly due to under achievers (Gonzalez, Ramirez, Cruz), and partly due to poor picks (Morrison, Bourjos – no longer on team – and Boesch). My problem, how do I fix this? In this particular league, there is an innings cap, and it is more difficult to pawn off quality starting pitching, so even if I find someone who realizes Lester usually pitches better in the second half I’m not liable to get much because starting pitching isn’t difficult to fill. Additionally, I have already dealt Jered Weaver (after his no-hitter) and Rickie Weeks for Howie Kendrick in this particular league. Not a trade I’d have dreamt making two months ago, but here we are.  As hazy as my closer situation is I am going to have to gamble with it if I stand any chance in upgrading some glaring holes in my lineup.

Now to find a trade partner. Really I need help everywhere on offense with the exception of maybe stolen bases. So I’m looking for teams with pitching needs AND an extra bat on the bench. I can make due with the Venable-Brantley-Jones pile (V-B-J) at utility, but needing to start two of them every day is troubling, especially since one of my other outfielders is in a major slump who may not break from it fast enough to get back into the top of the order (Boesch) and the other is battling a knee problem I don’t think will go away this season and would be better served in the V-B-J platoon as he can’t hit lefties either. In my situation, and more than likely yours, while we all want to get that stud bat it just isn’t realistic. I’m going to have to speculate on early hot streaks maintaining or slumping bats (not Jose Reyes types, talking more like Hosmer and Zobrist types) to break free soon.

In my research, I stumbled upon a team that has 53 of a possible 60 batting points but only 26 pitching points whose only current closers are Matt Capps and David Robertson. There’s got to be something here. I see Hunter Pence and Ryan Braun, but going for them reeks of greed and likely will get my trade partner to tune me out. Then I see Matt Holliday. Boring veteran who should do well but won’t be great? This may have legs. Then I toggled through his army of awful pitching – his only current closers are Capps and Robertson (for now) while failures Carlos Marmol, Brad Lidge, Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard are littered amongst his roster. Additionally, his best arms behind his horse Zach Greinke are Drew Smyly and Ryan Vogelsong. To start the season it was Max Scherzer and Ubaldo Jimenez. Ouch!

I wasted no time sending a ‘pick your favorite closer and favorite non-Verlander arm’ for Matt Holliday offer over, and within an hour we had a deal in place. The best deals usually take longer to research then they do to complete. You just have to get yourself in the head of your trading partner. He doesn’t care about your team; he only cares about his own team. Give him an offer that makes sense for his team and improves your own team, and you’re both going to get a deal done and find a more willing trade partner for future deals. After all, the best trades benefit both sides, not just one.

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