Written by: Andrew Lowe (@ALowe710)
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It is Trade Deadline season in the MLB and many fantasy leagues are in the process separating the pretenders from the contenders, so it feels like a good time to write about how to take advantage of the trade chaos and accumulate value by being creative. This is best applied if you are rebuilding or playing for the future, but championship contenders can still use these ideas. We see these ideas constantly in pro sports, but I think they’re underutilized in fantasy leagues. Remember, the goal is to acquire and control talent. Sometimes, that requires innovation. As your league learns your (hopefully) winning strategies, you will need new tricks up your sleeve. I hope this gives you some ideas.
No need to rip off your opponents. Instead, give them what they want. You do this by studying their team needs, talking to them, and understanding their motivations. But make sure you get what you want, too. Be creative with the trade structure. If you’re creative and your timing is right, you will bring home the bacon!
First, think about all possible assets in your dynasty league. In my dynasty league, we have major leaguers, years-based contracts, prospects, prospect draft picks, FAAB, and contract re-signs. Sounds simple, right? Well, my league mates have gotten pretty creative. Let me know if your league has any unique ones!
Unique Assets: The creativity really started when contract re-signs were traded. Each team is allotted 3 re-signs per offseason to re-sign pending free agents. However, acquiring an extra re-sign is good because control is of the utmost importance in a dynasty league. The value of retaining a known commodity cannot be understated. After all, an owner knows how to use their players best (platoons, hot/cold streaks, etc.). Owners want to keep their players; use that to your advantage.
Some other mindsets to take advantage of: Draft fever (either picks or auction dollars), shiny new free agents (FAAB), “big names” (high pedigree prospects, former All-Stars). Perhaps your league has escalating salaries; use another owner’s paranoia in keeping their core to intercept value elsewhere on their roster. Maybe your league gives awards for best value; feed off another owner’s regret for not jumping on a breakout player. Each asset is unique, so it’s easy for a player or prospect to be valued improperly.
Acquire risks: As a rebuilding team, you want talent, no matter how risky. You can stash the player without it hurting your chances to compete, because you are not competing! If your high-risk player busts/gets injured, who cares? You hardly paid anything and can drop him. The negative value may even help you tank. This is the classic Hinkie/76ers move, but contending teams can use it successfully, too. It is all about acquiring talent and this is a sound process because risks often cost so little and can yield team-changing results. And if the player performs well, then you can trade him or keep him to help you compete when your team is ready.
For instance, because of Dustin Fowler’s immediate (and unfortunate) injury, he went through our waivers and was free to pick up (and I quickly did). If he recovers – which all signs point to – I have a young, speedy centerfielder with average power. And because I am not competing for the next year or three, I can be patient while Fowler recovers and reap the rewards later. I see Fowler producing a .280/.330/.450 line with 15 HRs and 20+ SBs. Sounds pretty good for a player I got for free who likely would have been a first round pick in our draft had he stayed healthy and not debuted.
Pick Swap: Perhaps the most innovative trade in my league’s history, I traded away a third round prospect pick for $2 FAAB and the rights to swap firsts in the following year’s prospect draft. He really wanted to pick Lucius Fox, so I obliged. He got a surefire, short-term adrenaline rush. I got a greater potential future reward. This was a risk for me; if I had a worse record than the other team, the swap would have been useless. Because it was the first of its kind, no one knew if it was fair or not. But my trading partner’s team was bad. He actually finished better than I thought, but I still moved up 8 spots in my draft due to the trade – for a measly third round pick! Other owners thought I swindled the other team. I simply took advantage of draft fever and it paid off.
Salary Dump: The burden of a “bad” contract is minimal to an owner who has room to spare or is tanking. In addition to taking the “bad” contract, an intriguing player often comes attached, usually with a focus towards the future. The Lakers attached D’Angelo Russell to the contract of Timofey Mozgov when the pair was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. The D-Backs traded Touki Toussaint to get rid of Bronson Arroyo’s contract (the duo was traded to the Braves). Brock Osweiler’s contract cost a 2nd round pick to move. So far, I have not made such a trade. I have tried to convince my league mates that they cannot afford to waste roster space on a bad player with a big contract (incurs a salary cap penalty to drop). As matriculating prospects fill rosters, I think the “bad” contracts will be viewed more negatively because of the dilemma it puts an owner in. While I have not yet been successful, I have gotten some nibbles and should reel in something soon. And that is The Process – even without the results, you keep grinding to hit it big.
What are some creative ways you or someone in your league has gotten value? Have you invented a type of trade in your league? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below or tweet me (@ALowe710) or Ray (@Prospects365).
Thanks for following along!
Featured image courtesy of Minor League Baseball