Today, I want to dig into a dynasty league tactic that has helped me complete a plethora of trades over the years. It’s a simple concept, one that I’ve talked about before on FakeTeams, and that is maintaining a personal trade block. Every popular fantasy sports hosting site has a "Trade Block" feature that allows you to identify players you are looking to trade and positions/categories you are hoping to receive in return. The personal trade block takes this a step further and tracks the players on your team, who have received interest from other managers. Its form can take many shapes, which we’ll discuss below, but at the highest level, it tracks any time an opposing manager has inquired about, proposed a trade for, or made a comment about a player on your roster.
The purpose of this personal trade block is intuitive – it gives you a data point to use in future trade negotiations, and is a sanity check on the trade value of your existing roster. It can be incredibly helpful when trying to put the finishing touches on a trade, to have inside knowledge of an additional asset that the opposing manager has interest in. Many times in my deeper dynasty leagues, I’ve been able to take a deal to the finish line by throwing in a B or C level prospect that my trade partner had thrown into a trade offer months earlier. He/she could’ve picked any number of my low-level prospects, but by noting the one that was included in the trade offer, I can quickly sweeten the deal without risk of offending the owner with an "unfair" offer. Opinions on these prospects can vary drastically, for example, in a 20 team salary cap league with contract assignments, I received grief for dealing two expiring contracts for a prospect package that included Nick Williams, Jorge Mateo, Brett Phillips, and Ronald Guzman. Some owners chirped in and said I was trading two major league starters for "scrub prospects". In my opinion, I’m getting three guys with MLB floors and a lottery ticket in Ronald Guzman. I’d classify Mateo and Williams as fringe A-level prospects, and Phillips/Guzman both have the potential to get to that level in short order. The deal fell through due to some miscommunication and misinterpretation on my part, but if my trade partner was paying attention, he could dangle Jorge Mateo or Nick Williams in front of me and I’d bite with just about any offer. What could be dismissed as "throw-in" prospects to a larger deal, could actually be the spark to trade discussions that I would be incredibly interested in.
When forming your personal trade block, your process and execution should be tailored to your league set up. It could be as simple as a running list on a sticky note, or a complex Excel worksheet that dates and logs every detail of the trade discussion. My process is intentionally simple, in order to encourage me to stay on top of it and not require an hour per week to maintain my personal trade block. Personally, I keep an Evernote page that has a table for every keeper/dynasty league I participate in. Every row has a player on my roster that has been mentioned in trade discussion, and along the columns are the different team names I’ve discussed with. I simply ‘x’ the box in my matrix that aligns with the proper team and player to note that he came up in trade discussion. I have two additional data points that I choose to track and that is my "Championship Window" and the whether a player’s contract overlaps with that window or not. This is very league-specific as I play in a lot of salary cap/contract leagues where expiring contracts present a risk of losing a player to free agency and getting nothing in return. I simply put an asterisk next to a player’s name if their contract is set to expire outside of my ‘"Championship Window" (I plan on doing a post in the coming days to describe my process with establishing this Championship Window). The inverse can be done if your window is this season, and you could note any player who won’t contribute for another few years. My reason for noting this is because I’d rather trade away an asset who isn’t going to contribute at a time when my team is ready for a championship run.
I’ve provided a snippet of my Evernote table for one league below.
As I mentioned, this is intentionally simple, but I’ve experimented with some far more complex ideas that could be better suited for your league and setup. Some additional data points to consider would be the date the player came up in conversation, whether the player came up in a formal trade offer or just in a general inquiry, even a note of who your backup would be so that you can easily identify the replacement in any hypothetical trade. I’ve even gone so far as to note the players on the opposing team that I’d be interested in, so when considering multiple deals, I know who to push trade talks harder with. The options are limitless, but the principal is the same: seemingly useless data, if captured appropriately, can be leveraged in a critical way to improve your fantasy roster.
Feel free to leave your own tips in the comments below, or shoot me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more detailed questions about this idea or anything fantasy baseball related. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@BrianCreagh).