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The Trade Counsel: Creating a Trade Friendly League

Thursday, March 9, 2017 10:18
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by Simon Jones

Welcome back to The Trade Counsel. Throughout the season I’ll be putting out columns featuring all things trading. Today I want to focus on setting your league up to make it as trade-friendly as possible.

Recruit Interested Owners
Undeniably the biggest driver to having an active trading league is to have the right mix of owners. No matter how you configure the settings and tweak the league, if the people there don’t want to trade then they won’t. Conversely if owners are determined to trade then they’ll get the deal done, no matter how restrictive the rules. My favourite memory of this was in a very active league I played in few years ago, where the trade deadline passed and then the owners with the top two waiver picks executed a deal by dropping a guy each so that the other could claim him.

Deeper is Better
Lots of scenarios can drive an owner to want to change their roster around. Lack of form, injuries, lack of a particular scoring category or just general dissatisfaction. The first instinct when you’re trying to fill a gap in your roster is to scour the waiver wire. If you’re trying to replace a second baseman and the free agent pool contains Devon Travis, Logan Forsythe and Ben Zobrist, then you have a number of passable options even if they wouldn’t be your first choice. However if your best free agent options are Joe Panik and Josh Harrison, then the motivation to explore a trade increases.

Deep leagues can take two forms. A large number of teams or a large number of roster spots. The most obvious point about having a greater number of teams is that you have more owners to negotiate with.  More owners equals more opportunities, especially when a lot of those owners also have imperfect rosters.  Deeper rosters mean more holes to fill and less spots that you feel truly satisfied with. It’s much tougher to like 14 hitters in your roster than a basic nine, especially if there are 14+ teams in your league.

The only caveat that I would put is not to make the league stupidly deep. Most owners will want to trade from at least a position of relative strength. If an owner has no spare resources then it makes negotiating a trade difficult. So if you’re think of setting up a 16 team AL only league, then good luck!

Choosing Roto Settings Over Points or H2H
I’ll nail my colours to the flag – I’m a big Roto fan. I feel that it rewards strategy and a season long endeavour. I do play in H2H and points leagues, but I feel Roto lends itself to a mind-set that makes you want to trade. The main difference is the way that the categories are counted. If my roster lacks speed, in a points league it doesn’t matter as long as I get the points from somewhere and in H2H I can feasibly punt a category or two, but in Roto I really need to do something about it. When an owner needs to address an issue, a trade is much more likely.

Daily or Weekly Roster Locks?
Plenty of leagues prefer the constant activity of daily lock settings, rewarding owners who stay on top of their rosters and continually switch their line-ups. Personally, I feel that if a league wants to encourage trading then it should switch to weekly locks. It removes the ability to constantly dip in and out of the free agent pool and play platoons and matchups. Instead owners will need to concentrate on improving their rosters through the trade route. However, I’ve been in both daily and weekly lock leagues where there has been a lot of trading.

Democracy Is Overrated
The temptation when setting up a league is to put a voting process in place, giving all owners a say in whether a trade is fair. In reality this is unwise for a number of reasons. First it delays trades getting processed. There is no reason to have to wait 2 or 3 days for a trade, when it should get activated as soon as the offer is accepted. More importantly it lends some credence to the idea that other owners should have some say whether trades are correct and “fair”.

Trades should only get reversed in extreme circumstances and I can only think of two hard and fast cases of when that might happen. First, where a trade has been made in error and the owners notify the commissioner immediately. Second is the case where there is obvious collusion to give a team an unfair advantage. Neither of these are really up for debate, they should be in the hands of a trustworthy commissioner. There should be some mechanism of owners being able to notify the commissioner of their concerns, but giving owners full veto rights often leads to tactical voting where trades get vetoed to stop teams gaining any advantage (whether “unfair” or not). The commissioner should always be approachable to deal with any perceived issues, but they should also have the strength and authority to deal with those concerns.

I’ll delve further into the thorny subject of trade vetoes in a future column.

Choose Your Keeper Rules Carefully
Up until this point I’ve been addressing general points that primarily apply to single season leagues, but could also apply to keeper leagues. I’ll now look at keeper leagues specifically, as these can make some of the best trading leagues, where the owners have a long-term buy in to both their team and the league. One of my favourite trading times of the year is in the days leading up to the keeper deadline in my oldest league, where I can often make 3 or 4 deals in very close succession.

There are many different keeper rules out there, based on salary, contracts, tiers, rankings or draft round. It is impossible to go into all of these in one article, but I do want to address one popular form of keepers which I feel is especially detrimental to trading. That form of keeper league is the standard “keep your best x players to the following year” with no limit on how long you can keep a guy. This might work fine in certain dynasty leagues with lots of keepers, but in general this doesn’t encourage trading. As an example, imagine a team in a keep 6 players each year league that owns Mike Trout. In a normal non-keeper league there are plenty of decent offers that would make sense to trade him away. However in that league, why would anyone want to trade away unlimited years of Trout for lesser players? In the end, certain players become pretty much untradeable. Much better to have some sort of contract or salary system so that these players could end up going back into the draft/auction or at least getting traded to a different roster. If keeper decisions are too easy, then they often don’t bode well for active trading.

Auto-Draft – For Hardcore Traders Only
If you ask serious fantasy owners for their pet peeves, you can be pretty sure that at least 75% of them will mention auto-pick amongst their lists. In general I totally agree. A normal sign that someone isn’t going to be active is that they can’t be bothered to attend an auction or draft. However I want to throw out a left-field idea for hardcore traders. Set the whole draft to auto-pick! In a normal draft or auction, an owner has the chance to address weaknesses and balance their roster as the draft/auction progresses. Auto-pick doesn’t allow this, meaning that post-draft most owners will have glaring strengths and weaknesses and have an even greater need to get some trades in motion. I remember one extreme example a few years ago in an auto-pick league where I got 7 first-basemen before I got a single pitcher. I’m not sure I have ever been busier in the first week after a draft.

*** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!!   Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! ***

Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Standard League
OBP League
Catcher 01/09/17 02/28/17
First Base 01/16/17
Second Base 01/23/17
Third Base 02/06/17
Shortstop 02/13/17
Outfield #1-20 |02/20/17

#21-40 |02/22/17

Starting Pitcher #1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17

Relief Pitcher 01/02/17


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